Viktor E. Frankl, the author of Man's Search for Meaning, was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust.
Along with his wife Tilly, Frankl was deported by the Nazis to the Auschwitz extermination camps in 1944 . Tilly died at the Bergen-Belsen labor camp, though Frankl did not find this out until after the camps were liberated at the end of the war.
Frankl himself survived being imprisoned in several labor camps, witnessing the daily torture and deaths of scores of fellow prisoners. Frankl concluded from his experiences that even in the most horrific circumstances, a human being's chosen response to suffering can give meaning to life.
Before his death in 1997, Frankl published 39 books translated into 49 languages. He lectured and taught seminars all over the world and received 29 honorary doctoral degrees.
Some of his most famous conclusions from Man's Search for Meaning:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing —the last of the human freedoms— to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
“There are two races of men in this world … the “race” of the decent man and the “race” of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people.”
“...love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved.”
Man's Search for Meaning tops my list of books that have influenced me the most. I have read this book multiple times, and have just finished reading it again. I highly recommend it!