Man’s Search for Meaning: How Humans Find Their Purpose for Living


Nikki Gomez, Staff Writer

Man’s Search for Meaning is written by an Australian psychiatrist and neurologist, Victor Frankl. Frankl developed the practice of logotherapy, which is a type of psychotherapy that believes mental illness stems from a lack of meaning in life. This type of therapy focuses on helping patients find their meaning in life in order to help solve their problems. In Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl describes his development of the practice of logotherapy and the effects it had on his patients.

The story is told from Frankl’s point of view from his experience as a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. In the camps, he observed the prisoners there and how they dealt with such a traumatizing event. The book offers insight into how humans can survive unimaginable situations, deal with them, and find meaning from it. Frankl says that “In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.” Frankl also explains that “We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation when facing a fate that cannot be changed. For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement. When we are no longer able to change a situation—just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer—we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Everyone has heard and read about the tragedies during the concentration camps. Many books have been published about prisoners’ experiences in these camps. However, not only does this book touch on the atrocities inflicted, it mainly focuses on the prisoners’ psychological and mental state. Frankl writes descriptive commentary on prisoners’ mindset and his conversations with them.  It allows readers to visualize the mental and physical state prisoners had during their imprisonment.

Man’s Search for Meaning explains how without meaning to life, humans have no reason worth living for. When we find our purpose, our reason, our meaning to life, we uncover a motivation to keep moving forward. “A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any ‘how.’” 

In all honesty, I’ve read so many books and fallen in love with so many of them; and I don’t think I’ve had a book touch me so much as this one has. It’s amazing to see how anyone can find hope in a situation that’s purpose is to degrade one’s self-worth. It is an inspiring and invigorating read. Whether you’re interested in psychology, World War II, or anything else, this book will touch a special place in your heart, and really make you think about the evils humans inflict upon others. It is an inside look at how humans can find a sense of purpose despite such horrific situations. It makes readers believe they can survive any situation life throws at them. It inspires and motivates readers to find their sense of purpose in life. Because to all, there is a meaning to our lives and we are all here for a reason. 

I highly recommend anyone who has suffered from any sort of hardship or death in their life. Or any sort of suffering. It gives a sense of purpose for these sufferings we endure in our life and gives a push for us to keep going in life. A quote I think touches on this topic: “If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete.”