Overview (Masterplots II: Nonfiction Series)
At the outbreak of World War II, Viktor Emil Frankl was director of therapy in a large mental hospital in Vienna and the organizer of a group of successful youth guidance centers. Frankl, along with his family and many other doctors, was soon sent to a Nazi concentration camp. He carried with him the manuscript for his first book, which was taken from him and destroyed at Auschwitz. Ironically, the desire to reconstruct and rewrite that volume on psychotherapy helped him endure three harrowing years of prison life. For Frankl, the situation confirmed Friedrich Nietzsche’s words, “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.” From his observations in the concentration camp and his knowledge of psychology and philosophy, Frankl originated the school of logotherapy, or existential analysis. Man’s Search for Meaning is both an introduction to that theory and an absorbing personal account of the most appalling event in modern history.
This brief volume is divided into two parts; the first, longer essay is titled “Experiences in a Concentration Camp,” the second, “Basic Concepts of Logotherapy.” Both are written in simple, nontechnical language for the general reader.
Frankl does not dwell unnecessarily on personal hardship, but he uses his experience and observations to illustrate the life of the ordinary prisoner. Inmates performed hard manual labor, such as digging ditches and tunnels for water mains or...
(The entire section is 2190 words.)
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