Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor E. Frankl

Victor E. Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning is an incredibly deep book that helps to answer many key questions in life. The questions he answers, how to stop suffering, achieving something through suffering. Frankl creates a “why” to live, the purpose of life, as well as presenting a variety of helpful perspectives to the way we should live our life in order to get the most out of it. The book starts off with Victor Frankl in the Nazi death camps, talking about the experiences he had as a prisoner.

Viktor and the other prisoners were treated not as human beings, but as animals. Instead of their name, they were called by an assigned number, which was tattooed onto them. Everyday, no matter the weather, the prisoners in their near death state of living had to perform intense jobs that rendered them weak and ill. To add to that, the guards around them could beat them without warning or purpose.

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The prisoners lived in small huts that were over crowded, so that they had to lay on their side touching someone in front and behind them. Sometimes the floor was soiled with urine and had rats running around.

The food was hardly helpful, since it was mostly a small amount of liquid soup with maybe a vegetable piece here or there, however, not filling whatsoever. They rarely bathed, and when they were washed off, the group of prisoners had to all strip down together and attempt to save any precious property that they may have smuggled in.

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After the bath they were given ragged clothes that did not fit, along with bad footwear. These terrible living conditions, and more, were all endured by thousands of prisoners for years. Not knowing if it would ever stop, many of them gave up hope, lost all meaning to life, and felt worthless as the years went by. Some prisoners got to the point mentally that they lost all ability to care and lay in the hut on the dirty unsanitary floor as the other prisoners worked.

They did not care if they were beaten or killed. They had suffered enough of the prison camp is mental and physical torture to endure any longer. It is through this kind of unconceivable living that Viktor spoke about many ideas that had to do with suffering, living, purpose, and habits of thought and action. Viktor said that suffering in life is inevitable. Finding meaning in our suffering is our choice and is what allows us to continue through it, so that in the midst of that suffering, we can find achievement. Meaning in life can come from anywhere, including from a goal you want to accomplish, a person, or thing. The meaning can be anything in order to give you the necessary drive that will carry you through your suffering.

Seeing suffering as Viktor Frankl see’s it has greatly changed my perspective on it. I no longer see suffering as something that means my life is a failure or going in the wrong direction, but as an acceptable part of life that I can deal with better by finding meaning in it. Doing this will help me progress because sometimes you must suffer in order to achieve something through it. The next idea Viktor Frankl talked about was the meaning behind life and what that entails. He explains that, “Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual (Frankl, 1946, p.98)”. This means that the purpose to ones life is changing quite often because the problems we face in life are consistently changing whether it is at one degree or another. We as the main character of our own life are able to make the choices that are able to potentially solve any problem. We have the responsibility and task to make the right changes.

He also says, the “true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche (p.133),” To me, this purpose in my life was especially helpful, because though I have discovered an overarching purpose that I have chosen for my life, knowing and identifying a way to see my life purposes helps me get much closer to achieving a more fulfilling life, instead of taking the time to understand what that might be. I will now see the major problems I have in life, as goals to solve and are my responsibility alone. Viktor Frankl certainly learned and taught some of the most powerful and best ways to perceive life in terms of taking the bad and turning it into good. However, he also taught the best way to live in order to have a fulfilling life. He explained, “ the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something, or someone, other than oneself-be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself-by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love- the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself (p. 133)”.

Most of the world is blind to this fact that love and service is the key to living a happy life, and not wealth or status. I believe one of the biggest reasons why love and service is not as popular as wealth and status is because from the outside, service seems boring and love makes you extremely emotionally vulnerable. Though that can be true for both, they both can create for you a more colorful world full of learning experiences. I have found in my life that every time I serve another person I feel more connected to them, which in turn makes me more happy and desirous to continue to serve them. The same goes for love. For service is a byproduct of love. The more I love, the more I must continue to love.


  • Viktor Frankl (1946). Man’s Search For Meaning, Beacon Press (p. 98, 133)
Updated: Feb 10, 2022
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Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor E. Frankl. (2022, Feb 10). Retrieved from

Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor E. Frankl essay
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