Viktor Frankl, in Man's Search for Meaning, examines the relationship between human conditioning and the human spiritual dimension of freedom and meaning. As a psychotherapist, Frankl does not offer religious solutions, but he clearly believes that the individual seeking freedom and meaning in his or her life must connect with some cause beyond himself or herself, or with some person other than himself or herself, if he or she is to overcome the dehumanizing and unhealthy forces of conditioning in physiological, social and psychological terms. Frankl also believes that it is the responsibility of the individual to recognize his or her freedom of choice, despite the conditioning circumstances which prevail, and to take action based on that freedom which will transcend that conditioning and lead to a connection with another human being and/or with a cause which transcends individual self-concern. A passage from Frankl containing the essence of his logotherapy emphasizes the relationship between freedom and meaning, whatever the circumstances:
By declaring that man is responsible and must actualize the potential meaning of his life, I wish to stress that the true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system. I have termed this
. . . "the self-transcendence of human existence." The more one forgets himself--by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love--the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself (133).
Such transcendent meaning, won by the act of choice in freedom, is the essence of true life for Frankl, and the true means for moving beyond the forces of conditioning. Conversely, the forces of conditioning cause an individual to focus on himself or herself alone, draining life of true, vitalizing meaning and freedom. By basing his book and his logotherapy on the experiences he endured in a concentration camp, Frankl ma...