Man’s Search for Meaning Free Essay Samples & Outline

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Essay on Man’s Search for Meaning

Man’s search for meaning is a book by Victor Frankl that chronicled his experiences in the Auschwitz concentration camp as an inmate during World War II. He describes his psychotherapeutic method, which involved the identification of a purpose in life to feel positively about and then immersing and imaging that outcome. The book details the conditions of the concentration camp and provides the basis of the understanding the psychology of individuals who face extreme suffering. According to Frankl, there are three general ways to discover meaning in life (Frankl, 1946). The first way that one can be able to discover the meaning of life is by performing a deed. The second way is when experiences something or encounters someone. Lastly, the meaning of life can be discovered when one demonstrates a certain attitude towards suffering (Frankl, 1946).

I agree with Frankl, ignorance is no excuse to not living life to the fullest and discovering it. It is only through the trying of new things that indeed one can be able to understand the true meaning of life. Frankl is able to make an argument regarding adventure and the fact that if one wants to really understand life, then there is a need to ensure that he or she takes up responsibility and goes out there and performs a deed. This is the first way in which one can be able to discover life. Life is enormous and in fact, the period that one lives in earth does not allow a person to be able to explore this phenomenon. However, with one doing different deeds and trying out new things, one really does cover a lot of ground in understanding the meaning of life.

Different people in the world have different perspectives regarding the world and the different systems that exist in it. It is of the essence to understand that indeed an external perception is crucial when it comes to the understanding of the meaning of life. During his years in the concentration camp, Frankl met with different people that had different perspectives about the camp itself. This sharpened his view and had a more general outlook towards the concentration camp.

This is the same case with life, in order to discover the meaning of it, there is a need to ensure that one understands the perspective of different person. The experience of someone else and their worries, fears, likes and dislikes can illuminate the pathway towards a person understanding life better and how it works (Frankl, 1946). For example, one can go to a rock concert and get lost in the lyrics and freeze at that moment in time. This might provide the much needed illumination regarding what life is and how it works.

Suffering is universal, it is of the essence to understand that there is no utopia and consequently, there are problems in different parts of the world. Compassion is one of the emotions that humans possess; they are sometimes referred to as what makes one human. This is the reason as to why; those without compassion are referred to as ‘not human’. When one demonstrates a certain attitude towards suffering, one understands the first aspect of being human and this opens up the idea of understanding life. In most cases, having a certain attitude towards suffering is often important in ensuring that one still has his or her humanity left.

I disagree with Frankl with his notion that the search for meaning is a person’s primary psychological motive. This is because it would have been at the top of most people’s objectives. A psychological motive is extremely strong, and consequently, it is preposterous for Frankl to argue that it is the primary psychological motive. Most people go on their daily work and routine without giving thought to the meaning of life (Frankl, 1946). In fact, most of them have the attitude that they found it, everyone has it and therefore, it does not have any particular or specific meaning. The meaning of life in many quarters has often been attributed to philosophers as well as other scholars. However, for the normal person, it is difficult to argue that the search for meaning of life is a priority let alone a primary motive. Therefore, it is in this regard that I disagree with Frankl and the thought that indeed the search for meaning of life is a primary psychological motive in human beings.

“It is apparent that the mere knowledge that a man was either a camp guard or prisoners tells us almost nothing. Human Kindness can be found in all groups, even those which as a whole it would be easy to condemn. The boundaries between groups overlapped and we must not try to simplify matters by saying that these men were angels and those were devils (Frankl, 1946).” This is an important quote that shows that coercive systems breed their own conformity and that there is often a need for average people to have extraordinary courage in order to step out of this norm. The people in the camp appreciated kindness from the guards and this showed that indeed compassion is something that is edged deep in the human character.

Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love” (Frankl, 1946). This quote is powerful in that love is one of the most powerful human emotions. It causes one to sacrifice his or her own life for another or others. It is the wife that kept Frankl going when he was in the concentration camp, it was love. Most persons in the military often have the pictures of their families in their helmets. This is because it keeps them going and shows them exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it. In fact, it can be said that love goes as far as motivate one in life and it is indeed the salvation of human beings.

“There are only two races of men, decent and indecent (Frankl, 1946)”. This statement shows that there is no person that is evil or good; one is either decent or indecent. It is important to note that there is no society that is free of either of them, and therefore, according to Frankl, there were decent Nazis and indecent prisoners. There were those Nazi guards that were kind to the prisoners, these can be categorized as the decent men and there were those prisoners that tortured and abused their fellow prisoners for personal gain. These can be described as the indecent persons in the society regardless of their group.


Frankl, V. (1946). Man's Search for meaning . Vienna: Beacon Press.