The Feel­ing of Mean­ing­less­ness: A Chal­lenge to Psy­chother­a­py and Philosophy

Vik­tor E. Fran­kl; Alexan­der Batthyány, ed. and fwd.
  • Review
By – October 10, 2011
Mean­ing must be found; it can­not be giv­en. And it must be found by one­self, by one’s own con­science.… A doc­tor can­not give mean­ings to his patients, nor can a pro­fes­sor give mean­ings to his stu­dents.… The answer to the ques­tion of what is the mean­ing of life can be posit­ed only out of one’s whole being — one’s own life is the answer to the ques­tion of the mean­ing of life.” It is bril­liant philo­soph­i­cal gems like this, stud­ding a series of oth­er­wise sober and pro­fes­sion­al psy­cho­log­i­cal texts, that make the late Vik­tor Fran­kl a source of pro­found yet acces­si­ble wis­dom about psy­chother­a­py. While this book is denser and more chal­leng­ing than Frankl’s icon­ic Man’s Search For Mean­ing, it is no less stun­ning. Per­haps it is the philo­soph­i­cal, exis­ten­tial nature of Frankl’s logother­a­py that makes his writ­ing on it so deeply indebt­ed to and use­ful in Jew­ish thought and prac­tice. Or per­haps it is the nature of Fran­kl him­self that forges the con­nec­tion so adroit­ly. In any case, this is an invalu­able resource for Jew­ish thinkers, rab­bis, Jew­ish social pro­fes­sion­als, and any­one inter­est­ed in intro­spec­tion and self-actualization.
Ami­tai Adler is a Con­ser­v­a­tive rab­bi. He teach­es and writes in Los Ange­les, CA, and has been pub­lished in Sh’­ma and Jew­ish Bible Quarterly.

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