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Man’s Search for Meaning Essay

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Updated: Oct 19th, 2020

The problem of searching for the meaning of life has always been the central topic for the vast majority of people. During a definite period of our life we all start to question ourselves why we were born, what is the purpose of our lives, and how we should proceed in certain situations. All of this combined, if answered correctly, would bring the inner peace to an individual and the feel of happiness.

As it has already been proved, the material stuff is not as important as it is credited due to the fact that the sincere feelings, ironically, have fallen in price among all the society layers. Nonetheless, some people fail to find happiness or peace of mind and fall into the state of meaninglessness.

This essentially means that an individual missed out on an important part of his or her life, and something fundamental has happened that changed the perception of the world and the emotional edge. A nice example of such an existential crisis would be the situation that Mr. Morrie got caught up in when he found out that he is terminally ill. There is always room for the change, and all the people have to do is seek the answers somewhere deep inside themselves and not others.

Speaking of the meaninglessness, the key element of this experience is the inner emptiness, a void within an individual. Frankl states that the people who are believed to encounter the meaninglessness lack the awareness of a meaning worth living for. They are trapped in the circumstances which Frankl has called the existential vacuum (Frankl 130). One of the vivid examples provided by Frankl is a death camp, and the exposition is pretty clear: if one day you get there – what are you going to live for? An oppressive atmosphere and the hopelessness of the situation will easily break the human psyche and house inside one’s brain the unceasing idea of the fact that there is no need to live any longer.

A similar state catches up when one’s parent or a loved one dies. It always happens unexpectedly, even when you think you’re ready. You cannot make up for anything the existential void caused by the loss. There is a very high possibility that sometime after their death, one still will not be fully aware that they are not alive anymore (Grey 1). One feels like there is no need to live anymore if his or her parents are gone. This situation is vaguely reminiscent of the death camp, but the principles underlying the two cases are very similar.

Existential loss of meaning is often connected to the logotherapy. Logotherapy is very beneficial in dealing with an individual with a terminal illness because this kind of person habitually feels that the existence is worthless. It is asserted that each individual’s life has an exceptional meaning even when the person is opposed to the hopeless circumstances over which he or she superficially has either diminutive or completely absent control (Camus and Gilbert 117).

The role of the logotherapist is to assist the person in realizing that exceptional meaning inside himself or herself. The logotherapist does not offer the meaning, but somewhat supports the person in determining his or her own meaning. One of the methods of applying the logotherapy is the Socratic dialogue. In this method, the logotherapist asks provocative questions and draws out answers from the patient. The assumption is that the answers are already contained in the mind of the patient, but are present in the subconscious. The role of the logotherapist is to ask pertinent questions and to bring up the answers from the patient’s subconscious to consciousness.

The purpose of this method is to demonstrate that the answers lie within the patient and are not to be sought from the therapist or others. One cannot understand the meaning of life apart from the meaning of suffering because suffering is an inevitable aspect of human existence (Nietzsche and Fritzsche 210). To discover meaning in suffering is essential to meaningful living. Much of what Frankl describes in his clinical work, involves the people’s attitude towards their suffering.

Learning that we have choices, particularly the freedom to choose one’s attitude towards, or how one responds to, is often the central lesson for many patients (Schopenhauer and Taylor 371). Once again, the parallel can be drawn between the logotherapy and “Tuesdays with Morrie” where Mitch became a reluctant logotherapist for his dying teacher. Mitch eased Morrie’s pain and talked to him to let him see that it is not yet time to die. And while this concept is understandable, there is another perspective.

Morrie was a kind of a logotherapist for Mitch, too. It is explained by the way the teacher brings back the memories of the school time and wants Mitch to recall who he really was before he got tightened into the working routine quagmire and lost his wife. Seemingly, Mitch had lost the meaning of his life and was on the verge of falling into the pit of meaninglessness.

Questions about what’s normal and what causes nonstandard have been with us since the birth of man. Consistent with Frances and other concurring critics, a convergence of connected aspects led to an over-diagnosis of mental illness. The majority of them accept as true the fact that a growing number of primary maintenance and other non-psychiatric specialists are giving out antipsychotic medications, regardless of their lack of knowledge in that part of medicine. Belligerent sales and advertising by pharmacological corporations may also be the key factor that catalyzed the issue (Frances 34).

The book by Frankl gives the general answer to the question of existence and meaning of life – you should never give up and find the strength within you to keep going forward and not let the discouragement engulf you. A logotherapist might not always be around, so it is of great importance to remember how to be your own logotherapist. Reading this book gives you the necessary motivation and the benefit is evident. Firstly, one would learn to become an empath for his or her own and the others around. Secondly, one could apply the methods described in the Frankl’s work in any of the ordinary situations out there.

Either you feeling upset, unlucky, or simply lonely, the mood that the book conveys is absolutely out of this world as it allows you to understand what might have been missing from your life and what is the way to go. Of course, in some cases, it is of the essence to have the professional helping hand around, but the main lesson that the book teaches you is that you are the architect of your own fortune, and you must not give up when struggling, taking into account that the suffering is progress in some way, without which it is impossible to imagine our life.

Works Cited

Camus, Albert, and Stuart Gilbert. The Stranger. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946. Print.

Frances, Allen. Saving Normal. New York, NY: William Morrow, 2013. Print.

Frankl, Viktor E. Man’s Search for Meaning. Boston: Beacon, 2006. Print.

Grey, Julienne. “My Mother Is Not a Bird.” New York Times. N.p. 2015. Web.

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, and Peter Fritzsche. Nietzsche and the Death of God: Selected Writings. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin, 2007. Print.

Schopenhauer, Arthur, and Richard Taylor. The Will To Live. New York: F. Ungar Pub. Co., 1967. Print.

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