Sunday October 09, 2016

The Meaningful Man

Viktor Frankl wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning” in nine fevered days. Tens of millions of copies have been sold in more than 30 countries.

Viktor Frankl wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning” in nine fevered days. Tens of millions of copies have been sold in more than 30 countries. (Getty Images)

Listen 50:53

A chronicle of survival and a call to life, Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning continues to change people's lives generation after generation. The book is part memoir, part manifesto, and part discourse on human psychology. Written in 1946, after Viktor Frankl survived four Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz, Man's Search for Meaning describes how he endured the camps, and how to find meaning in the face of suffering.  

Seven decades after it was first published, it continues to inspire readers.

Chris Martin

Chris Martin says “Man’s Search for Meaning” has had a profound influence on his music. (AP/Matt Slocum)

Chris Martin, the British rock musician from Coldplay, held it close during some personally challenging times.

Mohamed  Fahmy

Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy used "Man's Search for Meaning" to help him endure pain, fear and loneliness during his imprisonment. (CP/Fred Chartrand)

Mohamed Fahmy, the Egyptian-born ­Canadian journalist, discovered it during 400+ days in Cairo's Scorpion prison.

Anna Redsand

Anna Redsand was inspired to write the biography, “Viktor Frankl, A Life Worth Living” when she saw how Frankl’s book helped kids who felt their lives were without hope.

Anna Redsand wrote a biography of Frankl geared for young readers, when she discovered that the book spoke to the adolescents she works with in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

 

In this special hour about Man's Search for Meaning (originally broadcast in April 2016), we explore the ongoing resonance of one of the most influential books of the  twentieth century. 

We meet Viktor Frankl himself, in an interview with Roy Bonisteel of CBC television's Man Alive.

Man Alive: Viktor Frankl21:15

We meet Donna Johnson, who visited Frankl's widow, and the room where the book was written; Rob McCormick, who uses the book's message in his work on Indigenous healing; Stephanie Sliekers, who Michael Enright met on a busy Toronto streetcar and for whom Man's Search for Meaning has been a cancer survival tool; and Viktor Frankl's biographer, Haddon Klingberg.

Dr. Balfour Mount, the father of palliative care in North America, invited Frankl to Canada for his last visit here, and continues to be influenced – personally and professionally – by his ideas.