I love Victor Frankl's book Man's Search for Meaning. It is both the story of a doctor's heroic work to save the dignity of holocaust victims and his own therapeutic model developed largely from those experiences. It is a tour de force on attitude.
In thinking about attitude as it relates to my dissertation I wanted to draw on Frankl's amazing work. I kept running across this quotation attributed to Man's Search for Meaning.
"Between stimulus and response, there is a space.
In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our
In our response lies our growth and our happiness."
It is alternatively quoted:
"Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."
This is a profound idea and is strongly supportive of the human power of choice.
Now, here's the rub. This quote is often attributed to Viktor Frankl, and maybe he said it. It is also (in Goodreads among countless other sources) attributed specifically to Man's Search for Meaning.
The statement is not in the book.
I am now amused when I read blogs by people who thoughtfully speak of how much they love Man's Search for Meaning and quote this statement. If they really love the book they should know they didn't find the quote there. It is possible that it's in an earlier edition, but if it is, and it's so popular, why was it left out of later editions?
I suspect the attibution of this quotation is the product of over-enthusastic readers of Stephen Covey's work who do not pay close enough attention to what Covey himself said. The closest association Dawn and I could find to Frankl and this statement was in Steven Covey's forward to the book Prisoners of Our Thoughts: Viktor Frankl's Principles for discovering meaning in life and work by Alex Pattakos (p. vi). And this is where it get's a little mystical. Covey does not attribute the statement to Frankl, but instead he quotes it from memory and notes its affirmation of his reading in Frankl's work. This is what Covey has to say about the quotation:
"I did not note the name of the author, so I’ve never been able to give proper attribution. On a later trip to Hawaii I even went back to find the source and found the library building itself was no longer present" (p. vi).
So, I'm left feeling a little like a Pevense, returning to the spare room to open the wardrobe to find not only Narnia and the coats, but, in fact, the wardrobe itself is gone. Who gave words to this profound idea? Is it Covey himself? Is the book in which he found it a figment of an over-saturated mind soaked in a stream of thought?
If anybody knows who actually said this, I would love to find out.