Man’s Search for Meaning – Logotherapy

It could sound as a sentence to ridicule – who cares to search for meaning nowadays! The answer is no, the whole world in its shallowness, fuss, and mess is still looking for meaning. The fuss, shallowness, and mess are in fact signs of desperate attempts to find meaning. The end up is shallowness, because finding meaning in life has its rubrics. The celebrity aspiring people we see chasing talent shows, jumping and dancing with full make-up and gaudy clothes just to get accepted is an example of a desperate attempt to find meaning. It’s the absence of a true definition of true meaning is what the world is lacking – and the absence of mental and spiritual capabilities to chase after it. These two missing attributes is what is lacking and not to say that the world is not searching for meaning. In other words, everyone is seeking to find meaning to his life, however, to how far his mind can reach or perceive. The effort is thus not to try to bring the world to look for meaning, but to help it establish true definition of meaning and nurture mental and spiritual skills to search for it and pursue it.

Man’s Search for Meaning is a valuable book written by Victor Frankl, carrying his invention of what is called as Logotherapy – a method of psychological treatment achieving just that, treating the psychologically problematic person by making him find meaning. Regardless of reaching a medical state, we are all in need of finding meaning, a true one, which becomes more difficult especially in meaningless situations. For example, sickness. State of illness in itself represents something in nature void of meaning to us, thus, suffering is intense. As Frankl states, we suffer more when there is no meaning attached to our suffering. Conceiving this technique himself when he was imprisoned in Hitler’s Nazi camps for years, Frankle could survive the years of torture because he could attach meaning to his suffering. What’s the meaning in suffering Cancer? What’s the meaning in losing a beloved? These are examples of intense meaningless suffers to us, in which suffering is the utmost because there is no perceived meaning we can attach to such situations. Logotherapy is just a school in psychology that discusses these. A typical case Frankl was surveying involves treating a man who was devastated by the death of his wife. He lost appetite in everything and was drawn in a closed circle of depression. He visited Frankl and told him the case. Frankl responded to him “What would be her state if you would be the one who died first?” The man responded that she was to be extremely devastated. Frankl then responded that by her death before you, leaving you to live without her a spare to the extreme pain she could have felt if you were the one who died. The man shook his hands calmly and left. What Frankl did to treat that man was simply that he just attached a meaning to his suffering. Now, the man would live gracefully for the fact that he is suffering on his wife’s stead; he is suffering instead of her. Suffering now became meaningful… and accordingly, more tolerable.

Same thing with all situations and all conducts of our lives. Search for meaning in every conduct through a true definition of it and authentic means of reaching it is a life sweetening approach. Failed attempts to find meaning, in the contrary, result in more frustration and the sense of lost-self – those jumping in from of jury to be accepted in a talent show may not necessarily be happy. That’s because illusive meanings are no meanings; in fact, they add more to suffering.

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