Man’s Search for Meaning is a book written in 1946 that gives a detailed chronicle of Viktor Frankl’s vicious experiences as a prisoner in the hands of brutal Nazi guards and indecent prisoners (Capo) within the concentration camp. The surviving holocaust illustrates into details how they were subjected to dehumanizing and harsh conditions at the Auschwitz concentration camp. As a result of this prolonged torture and fear of the worst, Frankl alongside other inmates completely lost the sense and meaning of life. The ego, self-conceptualization and personality of the inmates all go into oblivion upon their detention at the camp. The second part of the book features Frankl’s clinical therapy (logotherapy) that he extensively adapted in his pertinent search for meaning of life.
Although I have come across many personal challenges in life, they can match those experienced by Frankl at the Auschwitz concentration camp neither in magnitude, nor in nature. Nevertheless, I have suffered quite a number of dehumanizing and humiliating experiences that shook the core of my psychosocial well being. The most memorable of these are emotional and physical abuses both in school and at home. Public disparagement, name calling, and physical abuse by the seniors or a guardian have ever made me lose confidence, ego, personality and meaning of life at one point in life. At the end of transgressors’ actions, the victim is left helpless, pessimistic and dejected in all aspects of life.
It is most important to note that I managed to overcome these challenges in life through coping mechanisms. In case I am beaten up in school or scorned back at home, I normally take the experiences positively and never allow them tear my personality, self-concept, and ego down in the middle. I resolved to remain composed and optimistic in the event of such dehumanizing experiences. I definitely know that there are so many positive and good things I should enjoy in life at the expense of prevailing bitterness and hopelessness. However bad the situation may seem, I will always find something substantial to delight in such as favorite sport events, family celebrations, and memories of picnics and parties as compensatory mechanisms.
The principles of logotherapy, as advanced by Viktor Frankl, could have been of great help to me whenever I find myself mistreated or abused. According to Dr. Frankl, humans are driven by need to have meaning in life. Absence of meaning, also termed as existential vacuum, in an individual’s life would lead to a further degradation of his/her inner being into the abyss of self-pity, hopelessness and senselessness. Frankl’s theory of logotherapy nullifies Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis perspective which hypothesizes that humans are driven by their unconscious desire.
If Frankl had not nurtured the need to search for the meaning of life through the principles of logotherapy notwithstanding all the tormenting experiences at the concentration camp, he would have succumbed to the deformation of body and mind just like other inmates did. There are high chances that nature would have born the greatest of brunt of frustration, fear, and dumbness in the life of Frankl at the concentration camp (known as the death camp) had it not been for logotherapy, a source of nurture.
The lessons learnt from the experiences of Viktor Frankl in the Man’s Search for Meaning are very important in the occupational therapy as far as formulation of logotherapy theory is concerned. Psychologists will be able to understand and acknowledge that the human needs are largely driven by the need to have meaning in life. As a result, the theory of logotherapy will form an integrated part of the modernized therapeutic techniques of the positive psychology.