Man's Search for Meaning Summary

Viktor E. Frankl
- 1946
This book is good to read when you feel sad, confused.

Key Takeaways

  1. Life has potential meaning under any circumstances, even the most miserable ones.
  2. Our primary drive in life is not pleasure (as Freud believed) but the pursuit of what we find meaningful.
  3. We cannot avoid suffering, but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.
  4. Having a purpose in life is essential to psychological well-being and resilience.
  5. Freedom is not only about actions but also about choosing one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.


Frankl's narrative starts with his personal experiences in Nazi concentration camps, where he observed that those who survived longest were those who had found some meaning or purpose in their suffering.

Using these observations, Frankl developed logotherapy, which asserts that our fundamental motivation in life is not pleasure (as Freud suggested) or power (as Adler suggested) but the pursuit of what we find meaningful.

Throughout the book, Frankl discusses how one can find meaning in life through work, relationships, suffering, and the courage to face the inevitable suffering in life.

The latter part of the book introduces logotherapy in detail, providing a psychological framework that readers can apply to their own lives to overcome despair and find purpose, even in the bleakest of circumstances.

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