Man’s Search For Meaning : Book review and a dedication to Sabreen

Starry Night ” by Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh. Style : Post-Impression. The reason behind this painting is the bright stars shining in the night to me resembles hope.

 If you’re following our blog, you probably read Sabreen’s story. It was emotional and moving, We know they’re a lot like Sabreen out there so Sabreen this article is for you and all of those who are suffering; 

I’ve been always asked, what’s the book that influenced you the most? Answering this is always as hard as choosing a favorite book. I think now none of my previous readings had this kind of impact on me, at least not this instantly. Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s tell his beautiful humane story in his memoir Man’s Search for Meaning. He shares his experiences in the concentration camp. Between 1942 and 1945, Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Horrifying as it sounds, it makes your gut feel sick. It makes you stop reading and reflect. If you’re not familiar with the history of World War II, Hitler and The Nazis, you will be in a state of shock reading this. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering, but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. He continues quoting, Nietzsche :

“He who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear with almost any ‘how’”. 

Frankl’s theory known as Existential therapy or Logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (“meaning”). It’s a form of Psychotherapy that focuses on meaning. The psychotherapist makes the patient see what he doesn’t see. Everything, no matter how miserable it is, has a meaning. 

“ Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Frankl’s experience in the concentration camp put Freud’s theory into shame. It’s not really pleasure that drives people to live life but that our primary drive in life finding meaning. It’s a beautiful read and I think it’s the kind of book you should read to understand what I’m trying to say here. I’m tempted to share a personal story, October last year I went through one of the cases Dr. Frankl described, “Unemployment Neurosis” due to the current circumstances Benghazi and Libya are going through, I had to leave my house, my university graduation has been postponed and even though I knew it was due to events out of my control I couldn’t help but start to get depressed, I felt useless, and being useless was equated with having a meaningless life, an existential vacuum. After few months of this sufferings, I started with my best friend Project Silphium, a simple blog to raise awareness about women’s rights and feminism where we live, It was overwhelming the amount of purpose this simple blog added to my life. Frankl actually advised his patients with this “unemployment neurosis” to volunteer and start charity work, and honestly it works wonders. I know now that without the suffering, sometimes the growth would be impossible. I’ve highlighted so much of this book and I highly recommend it. To wrap this up I picked this quote which happens to be my favorite : 

“ When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude. A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how.”” 

Written By : J.E 

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