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Book Review: Man’s Search for Meaning

If you haven’t read this book, it’s entirely out of this world. I would put it on the book list for anyone living on earth, and that is rare. The book is written by Viktor Frankl, a psychotherapist from Vienna who spent time in four concentration camps, including Auschwitz, during WWII.

In brief, this man lost everything. His pregnant wife died in a separate part of the camp (they had no contact during their time in camp) and he watched his father die during their imprisonment, though he was thankfully able to procure some morphine for him to ease his pain.

Frankl’s central question throughout the course of the book is, what makes us continue when all is seemingly lost? When the worst descends on a person, what is it inside or outside of them that has them persist and keep going against all odds?

In a word, the answer is meaning. And there begins the treasured value of this book. How do we create meaning in our lives?

How do we wake up with a sense of purpose – every day – and let that sense of purpose carry us through whatever that day might bring? Expected or unexpected, ecstatic or disastrous? And we all know that disastrous things do happen.

Tony Robbins says that often times we make up problems for ourselves to cover up the fact that we aren’t doing anything. 

I don’t want to put binge eating in that grouping entirely, but I definitely, definitely think much of this applies to me and my own binge eating patterns.

when I am binging, there is sometimes a sense of being lost – what is my life about? Why am I here? If there isn’t a clear purpose to my time here, I might as well make it about pleasure, right? Eating is a basic pleasure, and even Viktor Frankl admits readily that experiencing something ~ including pleasure ~ or someone ~ is one way of giving meaning to life.

It’s just that, I have a feeling this is not the full purpose of my life. I have a feeling I am here for more than this, and I have a feeling you are too.

Otherwise, you might be quite content enjoying the pleasures offered by food. You might be, as one example, a gastronome. A food critic, or writer. A chef. Someone who makes it their purpose to enjoy food and share that enjoyment, via one means or another, with others.

But you aren’t. Maybe you are. In any case, if there is an inner conflict at hand, I suggest that it might come from a question of meaning at the root of inner life.

Frankl also talks about logotherapy – a branch of psychotherapy that sets out to heal disorders of the mind and emotions by helping a given person find the meaning in their lives.

It’s a short read and it puts things in perspective. Perspective, I find, is a wonderful tool we all possess that can cure almost anything. We can keep opening the lens wider and wider, and in the context of that big ~ grand ~ picture, we realize our role here might be much bigger than we ourselves ever imagined.

And the food becomes small. No longer can we loathe ourselves for eating. In addition, though, we might lose our uncontrollable ravenousness in the face of such a task as to live our true life purpose.

Whatever it is, something good will happen.

With love,




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