I had heard about this book for most of my life but I had never gotten around to it. It’s very short, less than 5 hours. The first half is an autobiographical account of Dr. Frankl’s time in a concentration camp, but not in a “This happened to me, then that happened” kind of way, but more of his observations of human nature under extreme conditions, and what he was able to learn from the experience. The second half is about Logotherapy, or the psychological theory & clinical treatment framework that he developed after his experience.
Logotherapy says that the key to human thriving is to have a purpose, or mission in life, and many things that manifest themselves as psychological or emotional troubles stem from a misalignment between the way one is living his or her life, personally or professionally, and that individual’s meaning – his or her “why” or mission in life, or lack thereof.
It isn’t an inspirational or self-help book, though it will certainly inspire many, and I am sure has helped many. It is not written in the 2nd person, that is to say, the author is not telling the reader what he or she can or should do, though one could certainly apply the principles in the book. Dr. Frankl first explains his experiences, and then what he was able to take from them and formulate into an intellectual and therapeutic framework, with many examples from life and his later practice.
It is written for the public, so it is much more interesting than a medical or academic text. It is very accessible to the non-expert reader, in fact it should be on the reading list of middle and high schoolers. This short book is something I will definitely refer to for the rest of my life. Do purchase it. You’ll be glad.