Friday, October 02, 2015

Books read in 2015: No. 23 -- Man's Search for Meaning

by Viktor E. Frankl

Started: Sept. 28
Finished: Oct. 2

Notes: After the wife passed and I was going through her computer, I found a note to herself to read this book. To my knowledge she never had the opportunity, but I thought I would. The author is a psychiatrist who survived Nazi death camps, and here he apparently shares his experiences as well as his own philosophical theories. The wife being part Jewish, perhaps her own background drew her to this man's writings, or perhaps it was something else. Perhaps, in her dwindling months, she was looking for meaning to her life, as most of us do when confronting death. If she had asked, I could have given her some answers.

Mini review: A little more than half of this book are the author's accounts of his three years in concentration camps, and this is the most interesting part of the book, speckled here and there with some personal insights and opinions related to psychoanalysis. The later part of the book is a little drier and mainly an explanation of logotheraphy, a school of psychotherapy created by the author. In a lot of ways I found much to approve of in the author's philosophy and approach to psychoanalysis, especially how down to earth it was (which struck me as quite culturally Jewish), but I also saw some drawbacks in that it could be utilized in a simplistic fashion to give a patient "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" psychology, though I do not believe the author intends for this. I'll also add, yes, I found this book somewhat helpful in thinking about some things in my own life currently, though I didn't have a eureka moment or anything such. Anyone having existential difficulties might find this book a good place to start for working on their issues.

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