Why Man’s in Search of Meaning by Viktor Frankl will surprise you

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Viktor Frankl is one of the most famous and impressive reference psychoanalysts who we have witnessed to this day. This doctorate in Medicine and Philosophy from the University of Vienna stands out for surviving the terrible and historic Holocaust that took place in the 20th century.

Precisely because of his attitude, learning and transformation that this experience encouraged him to acquire, has made history and, in his work, “Man’s search for meaning”, shows his experience in the field. However, Frankl does not stop at the objective facts of operation, routine, and relevant events, but delves into an excellent psychological analysis of the human behavior, referring not only to other prisoners or workers, but in a work of introspection. But, above all, it stands out for its excellent reflection on the sense of life and intrinsic motivation in the face of obstacles along the way. “Man’s search for meaning”, turns out to be a transformative book, whose readers show diverse feelings and for the most part, they claim that it is a book capable of changing the way of thinking and essential reading for life.

The reading begins with a situation by Viktor Frankl and a preface written by José Benigno Freire, from whom I would highlight the following quote, which I think summarizes a very key idea of the author of the book before us, “Frankl’s bibliography, like that of the great men, is based on the paradox of contrasts: both in the naturalness with which it assumes his successes as in the strength to overcome failures; from the intensity of his passions and projects, to the depth of their disenchantments… Illustrious men always they restart, and that makes them admirable and imitable. To become imitable I don’t know It is necessary to hide some dark or demeaning event, but it is necessary to perceive the angle fragile of his integrity…” When we start the book perse, we find a story loaded with sharp moments and alleys where you can’t seem to find a way out. In the first moments of the book discovers the tragic fate of Viktor Frankl’s relatives and friends: dead in the Holocaust.

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One of the most shocking facts, which personally, I have discovered about the Holocaust and in relation to the Frankl family, is that pregnant women were forced to have abortions. This would be very difficult to assume for Viktor Frankl’s wife, and it is because of this type of data that the book, in my opinion, It has an ability to get the reader to empathize with the story, which is from another world. When we are told about the Holocaust, usually in high school, we are presented with the most superficial, and, as highlighted in a part of the chapter “The report of prisoner nº119,104”, in a superfluous way with data such as the number of prisoners, years, political interests, economic, etc, but we never get close to that human and psychological part of what is suffered and that those, as Frankl reflects, were not just numbers, each of those “numbers” they were people with families, friends, jobs, partners and a life of their own outside the field of concentration and those people around him when thinking about the terror of the Holocaust they will think about the number of casualties or the political interests if not about that person who they snatched One of the most tense moments of the book, for me was the moment in which the lists of inmates who are “transferred from the center”. When the transfer appeared, it was the excuse to kill them, because in reality they were not transferred, they were lists of people from the countryside who they would die. Viktor was on one of those lists, and finding out how he escapes is curious. If he hadn’t, we would never be reading this book. Same as edit list it wasn’t just removing people, it was man for man, someone would have to go in his place.

Photo by MARCIN CZERNIAWSKI on Unsplash

Another aspect that makes us reflect is the use of humor that Viktor Frankl reflects on, “The attempts to develop a sense of humor and see reality in a humorous light constituting a kind of trick that we learn in the art of living. It is even possible practice it in a concentration camp, even though the suffering is omnipresent. It could explain it this way: human suffering acts like a gas in an empty chamber; the gas expands completely and periodically inside, regardless of the capacity of the camera. Similarly, suffering, whether strong or weak, occupies the soul and all conscience of man. It follows that the size of human suffering is relative. And conversely, the most insignificant fact can generate the greatest joy.” If he is able to make such a reflection to survive mentally, he presents an exercise for the reader to analyze how to deal with the difficulties of everyday life.

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If a person like a prisoner of the holocaust is able to relativize the suffering and one of such magnitude, we could make the effort to try to extrapolate it to our lives. Since, like says the author, “Suffering ceases to be suffering when it finds meaning…” In the third phase of the first part, we find the reflection on the man who remains after the liberation of the field, with a stake of the so-called by psychology as “depersonalization” and it is that, when released, the prisoners were not able to feel joy because it seemed unreal and had they been subjected to such circumstances they had lost the ability to feel emotion. It also delves into a related concept with the use of the new freedom, since the prisoners were subjected during that period to the extreme conditions of the field, when you have freedom again, there is a probability that it will be used
erroneously, with amoral attitudes, that is, believing in the right to act in accordance to no standard. Finally, something curious to reflect on is the strength that having overcome an obstacle of this type, here Frankl reflects on it as follows, After describing the psychology of the concentration camp prisoner, we have recognize that leaving that ignominious world and returning to the warmth of home produced a wonderful feeling of inner strength. Having endured unbelievable suffering, there was nothing to fear except God.” This, extrapolating to our current reality, can be a key point of search for motivation, and it is that, when we find ourselves before a difficulty, to think that we have been able to overcome a worse one with success in the past, of somehow gives us the strength to carry it out. Many times, or most, the greatest limitation to do something, we are ourselves and our thoughts. There is a phrase that I like a lot and I usually repeat in these moments when I don’t believe in myself yourself to get over something and it goes like this, “While you are doubting yourself, someone is scared of your potential or longing for it”

Photo by Eelco Böhtlingk on Unsplash

Indeed, “The man in search of meaning” is a transformative reading, which addresses many of the most essential points of human behavior and thought, but about which we do not stop to think on a day-to-day basis. Learn these concepts from a real experience, together with such a relevant historical fact, gives a great example of application which is even inspiring to thank the circumstances in which we find ourselves and learn to see them from another perspective, always finding a meaning.

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Sandra G

Here to be different

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