How does Viktor Frankl find meaning in the midst of suffering in Man's Search for Meaning?

In Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl finds meaning in the midst of suffering primarily by his practice of logotherapy, which helps other inmates of the concentration camps to survive and thereby gives him his own purpose in life.

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Viktor Frankl writes in Man's Search for Meaning that there are three ways in which one can find meaning in life. The first is to do work that is meaningful in itself or creates something meaningful. This is the basis of his philosophy and method of logotherapy. The second is to love someone or something. The third is to change oneself in order to cope with unavoidable suffering.

Frankl found meaning in the midst of suffering in all three ways during his time in the concentration camps. In particular, his practice of logotherapy was a way of making life bearable for his fellow inmates and helping them to discover their inner strength, which in turn helped him to find meaning in his own life. Frankl points out that suffering is not necessary to practice logotherapy; neither must one suffer to love another person, to love a place, or even an abstract concept such as truth or justice. Only the third route to meaning depends on suffering.

Frankl does not believe in a single meaning which can be applied to everybody's life. For him personally, the suffering he endured and saw around him gave him the opportunity to put his theories of mental well-being to the most rigorous of tests and show that survival and even flourishing were possible in the most extreme conditions.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 24, 2021
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