Man’s Search For Meaning

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” This quote encapsulates the book for me. Viktor Frank, an Austrian neurologist – psychiatrist, and a holocaust survivor embodied these words. The first part of the book narrates his harrowing experience at the concentration camp while the second part discusses the universally applicable lessons forged from his own struggle. He was at the absolute nadir of human experience and questioned himself – what defines one when everything that he/ she has is taken away? His time at the camp gave him a unique view of the emotional, social, and spiritual dynamic of his surroundings. He cites how under similar hardships and suffering different individuals behaved differently; some turned selfish, others apathetic while a few gave away their food and offered comfort and support to others. He was convinced that the distinguishing factor was one’s ability to find and pursue meaning. Later, he pioneered logotherapy where he argued that the primary human drive wasn’t pleasure or peace but a drive for purpose and meaning. And in the pursuit of that meaning, one could bear any trial, small or big. A deeply moving book, it has profound lessons for all as we choose our responses every minute, every hour, and every day.