Man’s Search for Meaning: 5 Main Lessons and Review

man's search for meaning
TitleMan’s Search for Meaning
AuthorViktor Frankl
PublisherBeacon Press
Rating★★★★★ (5 stars)
Purchase LinkBuy Here

Man’s Search for Meaning is the most famous book by psychologist Viktor Frankl, where he teaches that the search for meaning is what moves man.

Indeed: Man’s Search for Meaning is a classic in this day and age, where so many people lack a reason to fight and progress. Check other book summaries here.

Man’s Search for Meaning Synopsis

The book is very impactful and very striking. So let’s see a short synopsis:

The book shows the stay of the Jewish psychologist Viktor Frankl in a Nazi concentration camp, showing Frankl’s main lessons in these years of suffering. The work shows how the search for meaning is what kept the prisoners willing to live and leave the state they were in, instead of simply giving up.

Thus, the synopsis of Man’s Search for Meaning is that the work is a manual on how to seek meaning in suffering and in everything that happens to us, even if we do not understand it at first. You can buy the book here.

About Viktor Frankl

But who is the author? Does he have the authority to say what he’s talking about?

The author of Man’s Search for Meaning is the Jewish psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who spent some years in a Nazi concentration camp and drew important lessons from that difficult time. In addition, Viktor Frankl is the founder of one of the great schools of psychology in the world, better known as logotherapy, which seeks to extract meaning from experiences and, thereby, stimulate the individual’s progress.

So it’s clear that Frankl is a big name in psychology and is one of the most important authors in the field. To know more about him, check this summary of his book “The Doctor and the Soul”.

Viktor Frankl Books:

Viktor Frankl’s books are:

Viktor Frankl Quotes

Viktor Frankl’s phrases are:

“Everything can be taken from a person, except one thing: the freedom to choose his attitude in any circumstances of life.”

“Don’t look for success. The more you look for it and target it, the more you will miss. Because success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must happen, and it only takes place as a side effect of a personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself, or as a by-product of personal surrender to another being.”

“You are not a product of circumstances, you are a product of your decisions.”

“The best way to achieve personal fulfillment is to dedicate ourselves to disinterested goals.”

“The will to humor – the attempt to see things in a funny light – is a useful trick in the art of living.”

“Increasingly, people have the means to live, but don’t have a reason to live.”

Man’s Search for Meaning Summary

The book, although small, is very dense, covering several subjects. But I tried to summarize everything in the paragraph below:

In the first part of the book, Frankl talks about how he ended up in the Auschwitz concentration camp and how his experience was, showing that apathy and suffering ended up making his prisoners no longer want to live. live – with the exception of those who sought meaning in suffering. The second part shows the theoretical principles of logotherapy.

Thus, to think of a summary of Man’s Search for Meaning, it is necessary to talk a little about each part. Check a summary from his book “On the Theory and Therapy of Mental Disorders” here.

First, part 1 of the book talks about how existence is diminished at the very beginning of the stay in the Auschwitz camp, and how this diminished the will to live.

Many simply no longer struggled to survive, while others, who wanted to return to their lives after being imprisoned, managed to stand firm.

Secondly, the book makes a theoretical exposition of logotherapy, a school of psychology created by the author of the book who sees in the search for the sense of life’s events as the main guide to human fulfillment.

So, this book by Viktor Frankl is fundamental to show the bases of his thought, which is deepened in several other works. You can buy the book here.

What is Logotherapy?

The name logotherapy has gained much more weight in the whole world in recent years, precisely because of the popularization of Viktor Frankl and his work.

Logotherapy is a type of psychological school that is fundamental, mainly, in the search for the meaning of life. In fact: logotherapy teaches that man’s greatest desire is to have meaning in his life. In this way, seeking this meaning is a force that makes people able to move forward with their goals.

Furthermore, it is considered the third Viennese school of psychotherapy (the first is Freud’s Psychoanalysis and the second is Adler’s individual psychology).

This school of thought was founded by Viktor Frankl, a Jewish psychologist who survived Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Check a summary of his other book Psychotherapy and Existentialism here.

Man’s Search for Meaning Review

Is the book worth reading? Is it good reading for those interested in psychology? We’ll see.

The book shows, through the narration of the author’s stay in concentration camps, how human life can be reduced to an almost inhuman condition due to circumstances. However, the search for meaning can make man remain with his goals. In this way, the work shows how some of the prisoners quickly lost their will to live, but how others remained firm until the end precisely because they had meaning in their lives.

For example: reuniting with his wife, reuniting with his family, continuing projects that were stopped and others.

In fact: the book’s accounts are cruel, but they serve to explain the extent to which human evil can reach. The book may be shocking, but it is necessary.

In addition, the part of the book about logotherapy is very well explained, showing some principles that everyone can apply in their lives. You can buy the book here.

Therefore, the book is extremely current, especially in a time that no longer has any meaning in its achievements.

Finally, the review of Em Busca de Sentido is positive, since this book is a true manual on how to live well in times of difficulty.

Man’s Search for Meaning Negative Points

The book is practically perfect, and I didn’t find any relevant negative points. But I think there is a detail that deserves attention.

The only negative point of the book is that some reports can be difficult to read for some, as they are very heavy situations that actually happened. But that makes it all the more necessary to read the book.

Therefore, this should not be a factor that should prevent you from reading the book. Required reading! Check a summary from his other book Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning here.

Man’s Search for Meaning Positive Points

The positive points in the book are many, but I will report here in a simplified way why I think you should read the work.

This book makes you want to live a better life: seeing the problems that people have gone through, we start to value what we have (even if it’s little) more. In addition, it is a complete manual on how to seek the meaning of life, something very forgotten these days.

It’s worth noting that for psychology professionals, this is also a must-read. It shows the pillars of one of the best known theories in the area. You can buy the book here.

Key Lessons from Man’s Search for Meaning

Although short, it is a book that will stay in your head forever and will teach you a lot.

The main lessons of the book are:

  1. What moves man is the search for meaning in his life.
  2. If the situation is bad and you can’t change it, change yourself.
  3. In fact: having something to strive for makes life much more purposeful.
  4. As hard as her life is, it is easy next to life in a concentration camp.
  5. In a life of absence of values ​​beyond material ones, humanity finds itself emptied of meaning.

In other words: there are many important lessons contained in this brief book by Viktor Frankl. Read the review of his other book Unheard Cry for Meaning here.

Is Man’s Search for Meaning worth reading?

Given everything in this review, I think you’ve already seen that the book is a must. But I will again justify my recommendation.

It’s worth reading Man’s Search for Meaning. The book gives the pillars of logotherapy and shows how a person can search for the meaning of things even in the most difficult moments. In addition, the book shows how the lives of concentration camp prisoners were, showing that our life is not as bad as it seems. Still, the book is divided into two parts, which makes it more dynamic.

If you are interested in buying Man’s Search for Meaning, it’s really worth reading! You can buy the book here.

Thanks for reading!

Vítor Costa

PhD in Polymer Science and Technology. Loves to read and study about sciences, psychology, philosophy and other subjects.

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