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Man's Search for Meaning (Frankl) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions 
1. What do you think Frankl’s views of religion are and how are these reflected through his experiences and/or theories?

2. Throughout the book, particularly Part One, Frankl does not identify himself as Jewish. Why do you think this is?

3. Explain Frankl’s theory of success. Do you agree or disagree with him?

4. What is "barbed wire sickness" (p. 7)?

5. What is the significance of Frankl’s reasons for staying in Austria?

6. Identify some "‘Frankl-isms"that you find inspirational or with which you identify.

7. According to Frankl, “An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal.” What is does he mean by this paradox? How can you relate it to a time in your own life?

8. What is the "ultimate freedom" according to Frankl?

9. Frankl says that to be alive in the camp meant that one had lost his scruples: "The best of us did not return." What does he mean by this? How does the statement reflect life in the concentration camps during the Holocaust?

10. Why do you think that cigarettes and smoking were the last pleasures enjoyed before death? Why or how would they signal imminent death to other prisoners?

11. What were the "phase 1" reactions following entry into the concentration camp scene? What were the "“phase 2" reactions to being well-entrenched in the concentration camp routine?

12. What were the "phase 3" reactions to being released and liberated from a concentration camp? Explain your understanding of the gradual shift in reactions.

13. What do you think Frankl’s definition of love is? Does it fit into Frankl’s philosophy of existentialism?

14. How does Frankl’s wife give his life meaning?

15. Read pp. 37–41 passage about Frankl’s wife. How do these passages explain or exemplify the separation of the mind from the body?

Read p. 29 passage. Compare and contrast to this famous passage from Elie Wiesel’s Night:

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.

16. Talk about the passage on pp. 86–87 that questions the over-simplification of decent vs. indecent or good vs. evil among human beings in the Holocaust.

17. According to Frankl, how do suffering and death complete life and give it meaning?

18. Twice Frankl mentions the fear that "we were heading to Mauthausen." What does he mean?

19. What is Frankl’s advice to the hut/block for staying alive?

20. Explain how responsibility is a crucial component of logotherapy?

21. How does Frankl explain survival in the camps with regard to logotherapy?

22. Do you agree or disagree with Frankl that " mass neurotic syndrome" is pervasive in the young generation of today? How can it be combated through logotherapy then?

23. Regarding the movie analogy on p. 143: Discuss the relevance/analogy of this passage to your own life. Do you think that the movie analogy is a good example for Frankl’s view of existentialism?

24. How do you know if or when any single situation or event in your life has been actualized? How does this movie analogy force you to reflect upon your own life?

25. According to Frankl, what are the three main avenues for reaching meaning in life?
(Questions adapted from publishers.)

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