Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl (quotes)

In January we took a family vacation to Mérida, and I was so fortunate to spend much of the time reading books, including one of my top ten, the classic  Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

Frankl wrote about his experiences of life in a Nazi concentration camp, as well as his psychotherapeutic approach (Logotherapy) which is rooted in meaning and responsibility.

The following is a list of the quotes and passages from that book which were particularly striking to me:


  • 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 or ask the byproduct of ones surrender to a person other than oneself.


  • I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge.


  • The salvation of man is through love and in love.


  • The intensification of inner life helped the prisoner find a refuge from the emptiness, desolation and spiritual poverty of his existence, by letting him escape into the past.


  • As the inner life of the prisoner tended to become more intense, he also experienced the beauty of art and nature as never before.


  • The camp inmate was frightened of making decisions and of taking any sort of initiative whatsoever.


  • The consciousness of one’s inner value is anchored in higher, more spiritual things, and cannot by shaken by camp life. But how many free men, let alone prisoners, possess it?


  • The experiences of camp life show that man does have a choice of action… man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.


  • If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.


  • “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.” – Nietzsche


  • This uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives meaning to his existence has a bearing on creative work as much as it does on human love.


  • What you have experienced, no power on earth can take from you.


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


  • “I called to the Lord from my narrow prison and he answered me in the freedom of space.” -Psalm 118:5


  • Man is able to live and even to die for the sake of his ideals and values.


  • Not every conflict is necessarily neurotic, some amount of conflict is normal and healthy.


  • 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, or the gap between what one is and what one should become.


  • If architects want to strengthen a decrepit arch, they increase the load which is laid upon it.


  • Man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked.


  • Self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.


  • Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality.


  • …by his love, the loving person enables the beloved personal to actualize these potentialities.


  • Logotherapy: “…may help counteract certain unhealthy trends in the present-day culture in the united states where the incurable sufferer is given very little opportunity to be proud of his suffering and to consider it ennobling rather than degrading so that he is not only unhappy, but also ashamed of being unhappy.”


Have you read Man’s Search for Meaning? What did you find most striking? Connect with me on Facebook or email me your thoughts!

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