September 21, 2013

Nothing to fear but your god: Reading "Man's Search for Meaning"

Within the covers of this book is a very moving, powerful story about survival and creating a reason to go on even when the worst is facing you.  That there were any survivors from the camps shows the resilience of the human soul.  That part is very, very good.  You should read it and be prepared to feel conflicted about your fellow man, who is capable of such highs and lows.

Also in the pages of the edition I have are two addendums.  One is an introduction to Logotherapy, a therapeutic method that Frankl was instrumental in developing.  Another is a “Case for tragic optimism”.   I don’t know what to make of these so much.  The narrative that is the core of the book is only 99 pages.  The other two sections feel like filler, and I don’t think they aided my understanding of the narrative any better.  I’m most concerned about the Logotherapy section.  It seems to have been highly influenced by Frankl’s life experiences, but I don’t know how useful it is.  The section was written in 1980, over thirty years ago now, and I worry that what was written then has perhaps been superseded by subsequent research and work.  The problem here is that I have no background in the discipline, so I can’t know. 

Basically, stop at this sentence: “The crowning experience of all, for the homecoming man, is the wonderful feeling that, after all he has suffered, there is nothing he need fear any more – except his God.”  Then  you will be just fine.