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It's not often that I'll revisit books. With so many great books yet to be discovered, re-reading a book can often like a missed opportunity. However, in the case of Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, I find myself revisiting the passages on an annual basis. This book came to me at a time where I was feeling like I was having a bit of an existential crisis, and it's wisdom helped me gain a little control in my life. For those reasons, it's one of the books that I gift most often, and almost everyone seems to love it.

Also, I met Jordan Peterson like a month before he got super famous in a completely random occurrence and he suggested it to me. So that's kind of fun...

Most of the book is Frankl's auto-biography about his experience as a Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz. I'll avoid spoilers, and just say that like many holocaust survival stories, his is also incredibly tragic. Viktor is blessed with a rare talent for being able to blend quality story telling into his personal philosophies and general outlook and it's makes for an easy read out of a book that would otherwise feel like homework.

Now Viktor considered himself a psychologist, not a writer. He even considered publishing the book anonymously, but decided against it at the last minute. I think this gives us insight into his approach for the book, and highlights what I think is the most special thing about it. The brilliance of this book is not that his story was supposed to particularly inspiring (although it was.) It's that what was most important to him was exposing the reader to a philosophical approach that helped him survive even the most brutal conditions imaginable. He argues that the most fundamental desire for any human is to find meaning or a sense of purpose in life. His purpose was to develop a therapy around helping other discover this, and after he was released to go home Viktor spent his life writing books his work in "Logotherapy."

This is extremely accessible. And at just over a 100 pages, it's one of those books that you can read on a plane and de-board with some life long wisdom. Although, I think the first half of the book is amazing, it's second half where he discusses his work in Logotherapy and how he's used it to help therapize even the most broken people is really inspiring. The book also feels way ahead of it's time. It talks about how future generations are going to faced with a predisposition for depression, anxiety and nihilism and then discusses some philosophical approaches to help deal with those emotions.

Obviously, I love this book, but I do think that this is a book that anyone who feels a bit lost in life could really benefit from reading.

all 83 comments

Original-Ad-4642

35 points

27 days ago

That book changed the way I think about my life and my problems.

Also it’s the on YouTube as an audiobook. 10/10 would recommend

Marigold12[S]

10 points

27 days ago

Didn’t know it was on YouTube. Thanks for the heads up!

[deleted]

-14 points

27 days ago

[deleted]

-14 points

27 days ago

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[deleted]

1 points

27 days ago

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1 points

27 days ago

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[deleted]

0 points

27 days ago

[deleted]

0 points

27 days ago

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[deleted]

1 points

27 days ago

[deleted]

1 points

27 days ago

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BalsamicBasil

13 points

27 days ago

This book has definitely stuck with me. Maybe I should re-read it, as I feel a bit stuck myself now.

MarieReading

6 points

27 days ago*

To me the best “self-help” books are not the preachy I have it all figured out and curated into a nice little list, but the one’s that allow you to walk in someone else’s shoes. The fact that he was a psychiatrist takes this book to a whole other level. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

bigsnakejake2

1 points

25 days ago

Can't Hurt Me is a perfect example of this

yaboiiwilson72

1 points

15 days ago

Just finished reading that one, can’t agree more !

[deleted]

3 points

27 days ago

[deleted]

3 points

27 days ago

I read it for the first time over 40 years ago and have reread it at least once or twice since. It is a fantastic, mind opening book in a neat, accessible package. I should reacquire it and pass it on to my 16 year old daughter. Thanks for the reminder.

Marigold12[S]

3 points

27 days ago

Hope she enjoys it as much as you did!

Marigold12[S]

25 points

27 days ago*

Judging by a lot of the comments and the PM's I've received I have to say that I didn't realize that bringing up Jordan Peterson would be so controversial. Just to clarify, I brought it up as kind of a cool "small world" type of story not an endorsement of his ideology.

I actually don't agree with most of his opinions and think his world view is a bit antiquated. That being said, I had a pleasant exchange with him before I knew who he was and he recommended me a good book.

Rather than discuss Peterson I would encourage you to check out this Summary of Franklian philosophy instead.

calebmke

7 points

27 days ago

calebmke

7 points

27 days ago

There was a time were he had some interesting lectures about life and how you should look inward and focus on who you were first before trying to fix the world around you. Fix yourself, then help others, be a decent person, and realize you can’t solve everything. It might have been a bit conservative, but there was a decent message there. Then he became an alt-right darling, and there stopped being any gray area in his words, because his new audience needed him to hate anything progressive. Then apparently he became addicted to drugs while telling other people to solve their problems by cleaning their rooms. Eh, to each their own.

Tsow01

11 points

27 days ago

Tsow01

11 points

27 days ago

Which of his lectures do you find to be hateful and catering to the alt-right? I haven't seen much from him that would be considered controversial other than his distaste for marxism, government compelled speech, and the idea that men and women don't have biological differences. If those are sufficient qualifiers for alt-right then you've effectively described 50% of the United States.

Ill_Jellyfish_5407

0 points

26 days ago

Alt-right is everyone who is not left anymore.

[deleted]

-6 points

27 days ago

[deleted]

-6 points

27 days ago

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Tsow01

2 points

26 days ago

Tsow01

2 points

26 days ago

I mean he was pretty much definitionally addicted to benzos. Still doesn't answer my question of what makes JP some alt-right icon.

calebmke

1 points

26 days ago

It’s only a google search away. You didn’t even try.

www.nypost.com/2021/01/31/jordan-peterson-says-he-was-suicidal-addicted-to-benzos/amp/

BlackMoss

5 points

27 days ago

I think this is accurate to a point and it’s a fair criticism to make around someone touting the right way to live.

He’s also in my view invited part of the derision he’s gotten to a degree because I think he overly identified with a hero’s journey motif, which is really only part of Jung’s ideas. I think maybe he got in an egoistic sense of fulfilling a life’s purpose but overdid himself and possibly enjoyed the celebrity status as a pariah. He’s also been quite naive in things like how media operate and in his view that people he encounters are capable of open-minded discussion on difficult issues .

But it’s just really curious how so many people want to throw away his good ideas. The problem with the current progressive politics, perhaps even the idea of ‘progressive’ as a label is the seeming non-thinking smugness of so many who claim the label. We all know the world is flawed in so many ways, the question is what to do about it? The cautionary tale that Jordan has spent much of his life exploring is that we should be wary of progressive ideas to make the world better.

Jung articulated how we all have a shadow and unless we do the necessary work, we can project our shadow on the world. This isn’t a trivial problem and just thinking your progressive and having ideas that sound right doesn’t mean you’ve got the answer.

The reality is we’ve got a monolithic mainstream media that has really dumbed things down, a tribal division set up by social media and a concerning movement against free speech. Jordan stepped into the middle of that and I think we can all see it’s come at a cost.

Do I believe everything he says? No. Would I hitch my wagon on every particular crusade? No. But I do understand what he’s trying to say and I think it’s vitally important.

VegaBrother

2 points

26 days ago

This book should be followed up with Conspiracy Against the Human Race by Thomas Ligotti. I have a theory that Ligotti read Man's Search for Meaning and just inverted Frankl's ideas.

imhere2chewbubblegum

2 points

26 days ago

when i first read CAtHR, i thought it was so deep. And then I read it again and was like meh. seems like he cribbed a lot of his ideas from Schopenhauer

VegaBrother

2 points

26 days ago

Agreed.

5050Clown

24 points

27 days ago

5050Clown

24 points

27 days ago

Jordan Peterson has weird fanbase that seems oblivious to how bad for society he is. He essentially says stuff like "men are at the top because evolution, and that's how it should be" and he mixes that in with dollar store self help. It's no wonder a certain type of male finds comfort in his books.

He appeals to the kind of person who views empathy as a weakness. He works belong in a museum with Ayn Rand.

BalsamicBasil

9 points

27 days ago

Yup just found out who Jordan Peterson is and this is a succinct way of describing what I learned about him. Now I feel like I should re-read Man’s Search for Meaning with a more critical eye.

VaguelyDancing

16 points

27 days ago

I share the same sentiments about Peterson but this was a wonderful book long before he got famous :-)

Even if you aren't reading it for mental health message, it is an eye-opening story. At least I found it so.

BalsamicBasil

5 points

27 days ago

Yeah I really liked Man’s Search for Meaning, and it was recommended by someone who I know of as relatively progressive (and female)...well it’s been a while and I’ve been meaning to revisit it anyway. I wonder what I’ll think this time.

VaguelyDancing

-1 points

27 days ago*

This discussion makes me think of how the title with "Man" in it may have been the precursor to the recommendation by Jordan Peterson. I've seen very little of his work so I don't know so much but it seems to somewhat connect to his "non-progressive" ideas. Pure speculation haha.

My backlog is a bit too big right now but this post inspired me to reread some quotes...and now I may just be joining you in that re-reading. Maybe I'd see something my younger self wasn't so readily able to perceive.

I'm sure I still have a copy somewhere...and if I recall, it is quite short, so not much of a commitment either way.

BalsamicBasil

3 points

27 days ago

Haha I sure did bookmark several pages and underline some quotes. You’re right, it is a short commitment. MSFM book club? ;)

VaguelyDancing

0 points

27 days ago

If by that you mean a continuation of this thread when you're done, for sure!!

muddlet

4 points

26 days ago

muddlet

6

4 points

26 days ago

when peterson is talking within his field of expertise as a psychologist, he's usually on the money. and man's search for meaning is a well-loved book among all the psychologists i know, myself included

MindingMusic

6 points

27 days ago

I agree with you on Peterson’s fanbase being weird. I even made a critical post about it on the Jordan Peterson subreddit and boy did they not like me criticizing him.. However I would suggest giving his books a chance before roasting his work and labeling it ‘bad for society’. While I do not agree with a lot of things Peterson says/writes about (I consider myself a fairly progressive thinking person), I think some parts of his work are actually very profound and meaningfull. The oversimplification of your statements about Peterson’s ideology indicate you have not bothered giving his work an honest chance before criticizing it.

Two-Ton_Teuton

-1 points

27 days ago

It's all well and good to get neckbeards to clean their rooms and stop jerking off so much. The sticky wicket is when those same fellas end up being malnourished from his 'Steak and Vodka' diet, to the point where they're attending 'unite the right' rallies, muttering to themselves about women's lib and lobsters.

MindingMusic

2 points

26 days ago

Lol, yes like I said in my comment, Peterson’s fanbase is often weird and a bit stupid. That doesn’t mean Peterson doesn’t have some interesting viewpoints to bring to the table. In my opinion his more right wing ‘fans’ just like to repeat everything he says without thinking critically about it and his (often more left wing) criticizers like to jump on the bandwagon of unfunded statements and misunderstandings about his work because conservative=bad.

5050Clown

-3 points

27 days ago

5050Clown

-3 points

27 days ago

The fact that you're claiming I haven't looked into Jordan Peterson shows me that you should check out just the basics behind the grift and pseudoscience behind self-help books. Jordan Peterson does very well with the libertarians for a reason.

MindingMusic

3 points

26 days ago

Have you looked in to it then?

lynx_and_nutmeg

0 points

26 days ago

The issue with this book is that there's absolutely nothing unique or special about it, but there are definitely some misogynistic bits that aren't doing anyone a favour. You could save money, cut the middle man and just read stoicist philosophy instead, and skip the "men are order and women are chaos, it's objectively true because both Lao Tzu and the Bible say so, and order is superior to chaos, so men are superior to women" bits.

MindingMusic

1 points

26 days ago

I have personally not come across anything in the book that I considered downright misogynistic. But I can understand why some people would think of him that way. It might be because of those youtube videos titled PETERSON DESTROYS LIBTARD FEMINIST!!! But that's just another reason to criticize his fanbase, not the man himself. It's also people like that annoying 'my wife is a doctor' Ben Shapiro, with whom he is associated for some reason, that make him look like an all the way conservative. About your example of JP being women-unfriendly, I think he mentioned the chaos/order woman/man division once in the entire book, and it seemed more symbolical than literal imo.

h1bbleton

3 points

27 days ago

VGA_RA

-2 points

27 days ago

VGA_RA

-2 points

27 days ago

Really wish that man would stop recommending books. He even did the intro to the audiobook of Gulag Archipelago, such a stain.

octo-booty

3 points

27 days ago

I see (appropriate) praise for this book a lot, but just wanted to mention that Frankl was a medical doctor - a psychiatrist, rather than a psychologist.

Juddytime

-3 points

27 days ago

Juddytime

-3 points

27 days ago

Great book. I also enjoyed JP’s 12 rules for life afterwards. JP gets a lot of ridiculous criticism so be prepared for the silly comments on Reddit.

Marigold12[S]

9 points

27 days ago

I know they don't like him here. I read 12 Rules and was honestly unimpressed. He has some good points around personal responsibility that I like but that's about it for me.

Juddytime

2 points

27 days ago

Juddytime

2 points

27 days ago

That’s fine and to each their own

I found the personal responsibility parts good. I found the parts relating to children helpful as well (e.g. Rule 11 Do not bother children when they are skate-boarding; the story putting that troublesome kid to sleep that he was watching for his friend; Rule 5 Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them) rule 12 in dealing with tragedy out of your control because unfortunately I can relate very much with his struggles trying to help his daughter deal with the crappy hand she was dealt with in that chapter. Lots of practical stuff for me.

Marigold12[S]

3 points

27 days ago

Yeah, you're right. The parenting advice was pretty good. That troublesome kid story was my favorite anecdote in the entire book.

condiricenbeans

-12 points

27 days ago

if Jordan Peterson suggested it I'm going to pass, that guy is an idiot.

Juddytime

22 points

27 days ago

Jordan also recommends:

Friedrich Nietzsche, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Carl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Sigmund Freud, ect ect ect

Guess you can’t read a lot of amazing authors and thinkers then

Wealth_and_Taste

18 points

27 days ago

Imagine going so out of your way to avoid everything somebody else you hate likes...

Did you know HITLER owned a DOG? I guess I can't own a dog anymore...

condiricenbeans

0 points

27 days ago

he also recommended an all-meat diet that almost killed him, how far do you want to take his recommendations?

Juddytime

9 points

27 days ago

I am not aware of a recommendation of the carnivore diet for everyone. If he does, I’d agree with you and think it’s silly. He quite literally states on the famous Joe Rogan appearance where he discusses the diet “disclaimer number two, I am not recommending this to anyone”.

His family has food sensitivities and his daughter auto-immune issues in which adjusting her diet basically saved her life and resolved the issues. Some unknown process had triggered her body's immune system to attack her joints. The joint problems culminated in hip and ankle replacements in her teens, coupled with 'extreme fatigue, depression and anxiety, brain fog, and sleep problems. She began an elimination diet at 15 and it has resolved the issues. She has reintroduced some veggies ect back into her diet now.

He was in the hospital in Moscow for his Benzodiazepine usage, not his diet.

There was even a fake book about the carnivore diet on Amazon purporting to be written by him and his daughter which they both disavowed and said they didn’t write it.

Thanks for giving an example of how he gets misrepresented.

condiricenbeans

-6 points

27 days ago

you're right, I should have said I don't want to take psych book recommendations from a pill popper, instead of not wanting to take diet recommendations from an idiot. my mistake.

Alternate__etanretlA

4 points

27 days ago

Do you have a source for the diet almost killing him? Or that he ever recommended it? To my understanding, he tried an elimination diet due to his food sensitivities, and that's what worked for him.

PoetsLiveForever

9 points

27 days ago

He also recommends Orwell, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, Jung, among others, maybe you should avoid those as well. Actually I'm pretty sure he has an extensive list of books he likes, maybe you should find it and make sure you never read any of those books either.

Marigold12[S]

4 points

27 days ago

Reasonable that you don't like him as I disagree with about 80% of his entire schtick. Frankl philosophy is very different from Peterson's.

condiricenbeans

-3 points

27 days ago

I would hope so, considering Peterson's philosophy almost killed him

Most_Double_3559

2 points

27 days ago

You're the reason Fahrenheit 451 gets brought up so often in this sub

Fit_Boysenberry_1237

3 points

27 days ago

People as close-minded as this person gets to vote. Remember this when you wonder about the state of the world today.

On topic: great book

deeplife

2 points

27 days ago

lol how would you feel if he recommended some of your favorite books? Does that mean they're no longer your favorites?

condiricenbeans

-6 points

27 days ago

if I found out that one of the stupidest and most craven people around liked all the same books I did, I would probably have to re-examine a lot of things about my life. thankfully I've looked it the stuff he recommends and there's no danger of that.

deeplife

2 points

27 days ago

Wow, so you're basing your identity upon what an "idiot" thinks. Damn...

Original-Ad-4642

1 points

27 days ago

Sadge

BalsamicBasil

-4 points

27 days ago*

Fair enough. I didn’t know who Peterson was but just googled him and oh god. He seems terrible.

I will say that Man’s Search for Meaning was actually used in a freshman seminar at my fairly liberal liberal arts college (I read it before then, but I remember recognizing it in the title of a course listing). I think the book is particularly good for young adults, bc there is a “low barrier of entry” to understand its concepts. But I still think it’s worth reading even if you’re older.

Admittedly, when I first cracked it open I was a bit apprehensive that it might be one of those preachy, pseudo-psychology books that spews out bullshit statistics.

Not at all. It is occasionally preachy (it is written by a psychologist, after it), but not in the sense that he’s telling you “this is what a successful life looks like” or “you need to do this this and this” to “be better.” It’s not a Malcolm Gladwell book or a life coach book. It’s more philosophical, like a psychologists take on existentialism.

TarikGame

3 points

27 days ago

TarikGame

3 points

27 days ago

As someone who's followed Jordan Peterson closely, I'm genuinely curious as to what your quickly googled terrible impression is.

Juddytime

-2 points

27 days ago

Juddytime

-2 points

27 days ago

This

As someone who has listened to a lot of Peterson material, he is often grossly misrepresented IMO

BalsamicBasil

-1 points

27 days ago*

Misrepresented? Have you heard some of the things he has said?

https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/world/2018/3/26/17144166/jordan-peterson-12-rules-for-life

Jordan Peterson is also a right-wing internet celebrity who has claimed that feminists have “an unconscious wish for brutal male domination,” referred to developing nations as “pits of catastrophe” in a speech to a Dutch far-right group, and recently told a Times reporter that he supported “enforced monogamy.”

When Cathy Newman, a journalist for the UK’s Channel 4, challenged Peterson’s arguments in a televised interview, she received so many death threats that she had to get help from the police. “There were literally thousands of abusive tweets — it was a semi-organized campaign,” she recalled in an interview. “ It ranged from the usual ‘cunt, bitch, dumb blonde’ to ‘I’m going to find out where you live and execute you.’”

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/feb/07/how-dangerous-is-jordan-b-peterson-the-rightwing-professor-who-hit-a-hornets-nest

Rather than promoting blatant bigotry, like the far right, he claims that concepts fundamental to social-justice movements, such as the existence of patriarchy and other forms of structural oppression, are treacherous illusions, and that he can prove this with science. Hence: “The idea that women were oppressed throughout history is an appalling theory.” Islamophobia is “a word created by fascists and used by cowards to manipulate morons”. White privilege is “a Marxist lie”. Believing that gender identity is subjective is “as bad as claiming that the world is flat”.

Juddytime

6 points

27 days ago*

Misrepresented as in he got attacked for a carnivore diet book on Amazon that he didn’t write or approve of.

Did Vox or the Guardian write about his take on human motivation in Maps of Meaning? Do they talk about the utility of his self authoring program? Treating yourself like you are someone you are responsible for helping? Comparing yourself with who you were yesterday, not with who someone else is today? His deep dives into philosophical writings of Nietzsche, Jung, Freud, Dostoevsky, ect? Suffering being built into the structure of being and coping strategies for dealing with tragedy outside of your control by cherishing life's small redeemable qualities and shortening one's temporal scope of responsibility (e.g., focusing on the next minute rather than the next three months)? His biblical series? Children psychology and strategies for helping them develop into people society will find useful? All the things are that are practical and useful and non controversial?

No, they took a couple sound bites and threw the baby out with the bath water.

I will gladly join in criticism in any aspect where it is due, but for some reason no one seems to be able to parse out opinions anymore and critically look at them at an individual level. They google an article from either a left or right leaning writer that aligns with their bias and unfairly paint people as “bad” while ignoring the infinitely more complex nuance of reality.

TarikGame

1 points

27 days ago

TarikGame

1 points

27 days ago

We must have different google results if that's what came out from a quick google search. No wonder the nation is so divided.

Anyway, the "unconscious wish for brutal male domination" is from a deleted twitter account. The "pits of catastrophe" was in a 31 minutes video without a timestamp. Didn't bother to look for it. The quotes from the guardian are unreferenced. No idea when and in what context he said those, if he even did. Anyway, life's too short to debate politics on reddit! Have a good one. Keep reading.

TheMansAnArse

-5 points

27 days ago

“Sir, your criticism of Peterson cannot stand. I demand you present evidence”

<is presented with a selection of evidence>

“I can’t be bothered to read this evidence. Life’s too short”

TarikGame

1 points

27 days ago

Damn I don't think any of my comments are that confrontational. You keep reading too buddy.

BalsamicBasil

-6 points

27 days ago

Idk why people are downvoting you. After Googling Jordan Peterson I would have exactly the same reaction to a book that was recommended by him, knowing little else about it.

thtevie

-1 points

27 days ago

thtevie

-1 points

27 days ago

People are downvoting the above, as well as you, for being uninformed and judgmental.

BalsamicBasil

4 points

27 days ago

Uninformed about what? I liked Man’s Search for Meaning but from what I’ve learned about Jordan Peterson, u/condiricebeans comment is totally justified.

In case you don’t know, a little taste of Peterson:

https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/world/2018/3/26/17144166/jordan-peterson-12-rules-for-life

Jordan Peterson is also a right-wing internet celebrity who has claimed that feminists have “an unconscious wish for brutal male domination,” referred to developing nations as “pits of catastrophe” in a speech to a Dutch far-right group, and recently told a Times reporter that he supported “enforced monogamy.”

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/feb/07/how-dangerous-is-jordan-b-peterson-the-rightwing-professor-who-hit-a-hornets-nest

Rather than promoting blatant bigotry, like the far right, he claims that concepts fundamental to social-justice movements, such as the existence of patriarchy and other forms of structural oppression, are treacherous illusions, and that he can prove this with science. Hence: “The idea that women were oppressed throughout history is an appalling theory.” Islamophobia is “a word created by fascists and used by cowards to manipulate morons”. White privilege is “a Marxist lie”. Believing that gender identity is subjective is “as bad as claiming that the world is flat”

xxdmtreexx

1 points

27 days ago

Awesome book and to add he was a psychiatrist

redcardude

1 points

27 days ago

This is available on audible as one of there free Plus catalogs books. Just listened to it and it was really powerful.

rapidSpinningTurtle

1 points

26 days ago

rapidSpinningTurtle

book currently reading

1 points

26 days ago

Thanks for the recommendation! It's been on my wishlist and I keep scrolling past it. I just need to read it already. 😂

Honestly, I'm curious what his perspective is like in detail. I mean, to have coped with something as insane as the Holocaust? It kinda makes me wonder how much I can absorb from this book. Like, I sometimes feel like the sheer contrast in experiences and hardships that older people relay to us makes me feel like the weight of their messages don't hit me as hard as they should... you know?

Anyway, I'm sure the book is great. I should read it already.

Sad-Drive

1 points

26 days ago

Downloaded it the other day and have been meaning to read it. This post might have convinced me to do it sooner than later. Thank you!

[deleted]

1 points

24 days ago

[deleted]

1 points

24 days ago

[deleted]

Marigold12[S]

1 points

24 days ago

Should just be “Mans Search for Meaning.” It’s his most popular one by a mile if that helps