Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl Essay
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Life was consumed by constant orders, labor, malnutrition, disease, and murder in the concentration camps. Yet somehow the human psyche in many individuals was able to endure throughout these imprisonments. Men and women were almost completely dehumanized during this genocide, but their psyche survived it. People had to find little things to keep themselves content and to nurture their psyche. “Humor was another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation” (63). Humor allows a person to escape a situation and rise above it, even if only for a short time. Humor can never be taken away from anyone because it is naturally within us. Humor within the concentration camps allowed people, for even a split second, to feel like they…show more content…
I interpret the first one as being the best person I can be to others and me, choosing to do just the next right thing. The second one, attitude towards unavoidable suffering, is something I have accepted a long time ago. I do not bother with things I cannot control and try to make the best of every situation. “The last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” (86). This relates to being an optimist. My attitude is things will always get better down the road of life despite unavoidable suffering. Realizing every person is fighting a great battle in his or her life has changed my worldview. I realize everyone is trying to find meaning and dealing with suffering in one form or another. “It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us” (98). Most people try, in one way or another, to follow this mindset in life. This allows me to be more understanding of why people make decisions and act on them. When anything goes wrong or bad in my life, my family is always there for me. Whenever my family goes through something bad, I am there for him/her. I believe we are in this life together and this belief deepens my sense of meaning. Personal suffering is a
Survival and Fully Living
Viktor Frankl’s concept regarding survival and fully living was developed through his observations and experiences in the concentration camps. He used his psychiatric training to discern the meanings of observations and to help himself become a better person. He uses analysis to develop his own concepts and describes them in steps throughout the book.
When the prisoners first arrived at the camp most of them thought they would be spared at the last moment. The prisoners believed they had a chance of surviving, but this belief was eventually eliminated and it was at this time when the prisoners began to learn how to survive by using their internal strength. A sense of humor had emerged among the prisoners. This humor helped to get through some difficult situations they faced.
Viktor also observed how much a person could really endure and still live. Even though the prisoners could not clean their teeth and were deprived of warmth and vitamins, they still were able to survive. The sores and abrasions on their hands did not suppurate despite the dirt that gathered on them from the hard labor. The challenge of staying alive under these wretched conditions was to have and maintain strong internal strength.
During the time he spent in the camps, Viktor learned what was needed to survive and how to keep his internal strength despite his weakening external strength. During the second stage of Viktor’s psychological reaction, prisoners lost their sense of feeling and emotion toward events that would be emotional to people outside the camps. This was a result of the violent environment, which consisted of beatings of prisoners and the death of many others.
The prisoners could no longer feel any disgust or horror since these emotions where very common. From Viktor’s professional point of view, this observation surprised him and also gave him a different point of view of the whole situation. The pain that hurt Viktor the most was the pain he felt when he received punishment for no reason. The punishments were of an insult, and hurt the prisoners on the inside more than on the outside. Viktor also acknowledged the fact that since the prisoners lacked the primary needs, they would dream about them and put all other needs aside.
Since there was a lack of food Viktor depended greatly on his inner thoughts to get himself through the suffering. He needed some hope and a reason to live. He thought about his wife and the love that they shared. Every chance, he got he thought about pleasant events from the past to help get through all the hard times. The prisoners had a life of their own in their minds.
At one point Viktor gave up on trying to control his life and in sending himself into the path he wanted. He decided to let fate take its course. After a while he found out that he could not allow this to happen, his inner emotions could not stand being helpless. He had to make decisions for himself if he wanted to have some control over his life and if he wanted to get out of the camp alive.
When the camps were closing Viktor became the emotional leader of the remaining prisoners. He raised their hopes, and by doing this he was looking at the situation from a different point of view. He believed that life expected more from them and that they had to live in order to accomplish the unfinished work they had left behind when they left their home.
When Viktor and the prisoners were released everyone except Viktor had no sense of direction. They did not know what was right and what was wrong. They went around and copied the actions of the SS, not knowing that it was wrong. Victor was fortunate and did not end up like the other survivors, since he had more knowledge than they did and was able to see his opportunity to live his life again.
Viktor’s concept applies to my life during the times when I am feeling bad or when I just don’t know what to do. When I am have tremendous amount of work and I don’t know when or how I will get through it I think about how it will turn out in the future. I know that I will get through the difficulty alive, unlike the situation that Viktor and the other prisoners were going through. I just look forward to the future and acknowledge the fact that even if I do a bad job there will be other things to make up for it afterwards.
Sometimes when my environment is unpleasing to me I like to get out of reality and think about the things that I enjoy. When I have much work to do and I don’t know why I am doing it at all I think of my parents. I want a good education and a good career to be able to thank my parents for the sacrifices they have made for me. I hope that someday I will be successful and make my parents proud of me. I would like to pay them back for their sacrifices give something back to them and show that their sacrifices did not go to waste.
Word Count: 884