Man’s Search for Meaning: Response Paper
Viktor Frankl (1902-1997) was an Austrian psychiatrist and neurologist, and is notable as the founder of logotherapy, a form of psychotherapy which focuses on the achievement of meaning in life. He was also witness to one of the most terrible genocides in world history, and it is his experiences and his takeaways from the concentration camps that form the basis of his book, Man’s Search for Meaning. The book is separated into two parts: the first part details his experience in the camps, and the second part discusses his theories on the meaning of life.
The writing style of the book tends to be both narrative and expository: Frankl told of incidences and happenings in the camp, while at the same time giving a deeper explanation of the scenarios and emotions of the moment, which would have gone unobserved in a simply narrative text. He began by dissuading the reader from conceiving the affairs of camp life with pity, and asserted that it was, in fact, a fierce daily struggle for survival. He emphasized that point by telling of the transport (probably to the gas chambers and crematoriums), and how every man’s primary concern became to get he and his friends’ names of the list of those to be transported, no matter how.
Frankl dissected the thoughts and feelings of a new arrival to the camp. The first reaction was shock and disbelief. This most likely occurred as a result in the drastic change of circumstances, as well as the aggravated brutality meted out by the SS officials and Capos. The prisoners could not accept what their lives had become because it was too different and too painful. They also suffered from what Frankl identified as “delusion of reprieve”. Their situation had not yet fully sunk in, so each prisoner (at least on some level) thought he would be pardoned and released. That delusion was quickly broken when they were faced with intense suffering and the death of people around them.
After the shock...
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