Man’s Search for Meaning

Favourite Lines

  • Frankl is fond of quoting Nietzsche, “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.”
  • To weave these slender threads of a broken life into a firm pattern of meaning and responsibility is the object and challenge of logotherapy, which is Dr. Frankl’s own version of modern existential analysis.
  • The latin word finis has two meanings: the end or the finish, and a goal to reach.
  • What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.
  • Such security, like Paradise, is closed to man forever; man has to make choices. No instinct tells him what he has to do, and no 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).
  • The existential vacuum manifests itself mainly in a state of boredom. Now we can understand Schopenhauer when he said that mankind was apparently doomed to vacillate eternally between the two extremes of distress and boredom. In actual fact, boredom is now causing, and certainly bringing to psychiatrists, more problems to solve than distress. And these problems are growing increasingly crucial, for progressive automation will probably lead to an enormous increase in the leisure hours available to the average worker. The pity of it is that many of these will not know what to do with all their newly acquired free time.
  • “Sunday neurosis,” is a kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest. Not a few cases of suicide can be traced back to this existential vacuum. Such widespread phenomena as depression, aggression and addiction are not understandable unless we recognize the existential vacuum underlying them. This is also true of the crises of pensioners and aging people. But if you look at it one may realise that 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 meanings they have fulfilled, the love loved, the sufferings they have suffered and the values they have realized — and nothing and nobody can ever remove these assets from the past.
  • I said that someone looks down on each us in difficult hours — a friend, a parent, somebody alive or dead, or a God— and he would not expect us to disappoint him. He would hope to find us suffering proudly — not miserably — knowing how to die.

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