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  • Writer's pictureNishant Mittal

11th book of 2020: A Man's Search for Meaning by Viktore Frankl

Victor Frankl was a Jewish neurologist and psychologist who survived the Aushwitz concentration camp. After his liberation, he outlined his life's work in this book and went on to pioneer Logotherapy in the field of clinical psychology. Logotherapy, coming from the Greek word Logos (meaning reason), believes in "healing through meaning", i.e., uncovering the true "meaning" of one's life as a medium of therapy. Interesting.

The book begins with a detailed autobiographical account of Dr. Frankl surviving the Nazi concentration camp. The experience sounds extremely horrific and makes you, more than anything, silent. An account like that is beyond commentary and I won't even try, but here's a thing: Every book that I've ever read by a Jewish author (including Startup Nation) never fails to outline the two Jewish tragedies, i.e. Oppression by Muslims and/or persecution by Nazis. It's like these two great sufferings have become the anchor of the Jewish community across the world. I wonder why other communities could never unite themselves like that. One could argue that Hindus suffered to the extreme under the Persian/Mughal invasions and even British Raj. What about the American Indian tribes like Comanches, Apaches, Cherokees, etc.?

There are many communities across the world that have survived a literal 'wash out' by oppressive forces, but have never been able to gain as much strength as the Jews. Why not? Because Jews have chosen to not forget their sufferings. Every piece of literature that ever comes out reinforces the legacy of those sufferings and brings the community closer. Much respect!

After the tryst at the camp, the book goes on to introduce Logotherapy, which like most texts on psychology is filled with jargon and is tough to read. I took a lot of breaks (naps) while trying to finish this small book, which is quite unusual. Thankfully, I reached the end and didn't feel bad about it.



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