Book: Man's Search For Meaning
Author(s): Viktor E. Frankl
Read: 01/31/2018

Notes and Highlights


For success, like happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself.


Only the man inside knows

This refers to the man inside the prison. He is the only one that knows how difficult it is.


Like a drowning man clutching a straw, my inborn optimism (which has often controlled my feelings even in the most desperate situations) clung to this thought: These prisoners look quite well, they seem to be in good spirits and even laugh. Who knows? I might manage to share their favorable position.


We knew we had nothing to lose except our so ridiculously naked lives.


An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behaviour.


Those who have not gone through a similar experience can hardly conceive of the soul-destroying mental conflict and clashes of will power which a famished man experiences.


Love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which a man aspires.


The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved.


Love goes far beyond the physical person of the beloved, it finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self.


The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living


No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same.


We found out just how uncertain human decisions are, especially in matters of life and death.


Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.


An active life serves the purpose of giving man the opportunity to realize values in creative work, while a passive life of enjoyment afford him the opportunity to obtain fulfillment in experiencing beauty, art, or nature. But there is also purpose in that life which is almost barren of both creation and enjoyment and which admits of but one possibility of high moral behavior: namely, in man’s attitude to existence, an existence restricted by external forces . A creative life and a life of enjoyment are banned to him. But not only creativeness and enjoyment are meaningful. If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.


My comrades agreed when I said that in camp a day lasted longer than a week.

El tiempo es lineal pero nuestra experiencia del tiempo no lo es.


Those how know how close the connection is between the state of mind of a man – his courage and hope, or lack of them – and the state of immunity of his body will understand that the sudden loss of hope and courage can have a deadly effect.


It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.


I had no intention of losing hope and giving up. For no man knew what the future would bring, much less the next hour.


Human kindness can be found in all groups, even those which as a whole it would be easy to condemn.

Se refiere a la bondad que existía incluso entre algunos Nazi.


No one has the right to do wrong, not even if wrong has been done to them.


Logotherapy focuses on the meaning of human existence as well as on man’s search for such a meaning. According to logotherapy, this striving to find a meaning in one’s life is the primary motivational force in man.


It can be seen that mental health is based on a certain degree of tension, the tension between what one has already achieved and what one still ought to accomplish


What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task


No instinct tells him what he has to do, an nod tradition tells him what he ought to do; sometimes he does not even know what he wishes to do. Instead, he either wishes to do what other people do (conformism) or he does what other people wish him to do (totalitarianism)


What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.


Man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.


The meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche.


Suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.


What is demanded of man is not, as some existential philosophers teach, to endure the meaninglessness of life, but rather to bear his incapacity to grasp its unconditional meaningfulness in rational terms. Logos is deeper than logic.


In the past, nothing is irretrievable lost but everything irrevocably stored.


The pessimist resembles a man who observers with fear and sadness that his wall calendar, from which he daily tears a sheet, grows thinner with each passing day. On the other hand, the person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a man who removes each successive leaf from his calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after first having jotted down a few diary notes on the back


Man is not fully conditioned and determined but rather determines himself whether he gives in to conditions or stands up to them. In other words, man is ultimately self-determining. Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment.


Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensure. One must have a reason to be happy.


Live as if you were living for the second time and had acted as wrongly the first time as you are about to act now


There is no reason to pity old people. Instead, young people should envy them. It is true that the old have no opportunities, no possibilities in the future. But they have more than that. Instead of possibilities in the future, they have realities in the past – the potentialities they have actualized, the meaning they have fulfilled, the values they have realized – and nothing and nobody can ever remove these assets from the past.


A positive attitude enables a person to endure suffering and disappointment as well as enhance enjoyment and satisfaction. A negative attitude intensifies pain and deepens disappointments, it undermines and diminishes pleasure, happiness and satisfaction’ it may even lead to depression or physical illness.


Only the man inside knows

This refers to the man inside the prison. He is the only one that knows how difficult it is.