The Victor Frankl 5-a-Day Book Cult: Day 15

In today’s pages (p78-83), Victor Frankl addresses the dangers of the past, the sufferings of the present and the promise of the future.

For concentration camp prisoners, the ‘most depressing influence’ on their psychology was the fact that no one knew how long they would remain imprisoned for. This created, in the words of one unnamed research psychologist, a ‘provisional existence’, to which Frankl adds ‘of unknown limit’. Continue reading “The Victor Frankl 5-a-Day Book Cult: Day 15”

Victor Frankl 5-a-Day Book Cult: Day 14

In today’s pages (p74-78), Victor Frankl sets out the first principles of his theory of logotherapy: addressing directly the question of man’s search for meaning.

Following his description of the psychological trials of the camp inmate, Frankl asks whether or not the ‘human being is completely and unavoidably influenced by his surroundings’.

Is that theory true which would have us believe that man is no more than a product of many conditional and environmental factors – be they of a biological, psychological or sociological nature? … [D]o the prisoners’ reactions to the singular world of the concentration camp prove that man cannot escape the influences of his surroundings?

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The Victor Frankl 5-a-Day Book Cult: Day 13

Today’s pages (p70-74) bring us to the end of the Nazi rule of the concentration camp where Frankl was kept prisoner. But not without one last twist of fate.

Frankl’s celebrations at the coming of the Red Cross delegate was short-lived. The SS arrived that night and ordered the camp to be cleared, and the prisoners taken to another camp where they would be transferred to Switzerland.

But after a mistake by the Chief Doctor, Frankl was not put on any of the trucks which understandably left him ‘[s]urprised, very annoyed and disappointed’. Continue reading “The Victor Frankl 5-a-Day Book Cult: Day 13”

The Victor Frankl 5-a-Day Book Cult: Day 12

Today’s pages (p64-70) concern Victor Frankl’s attitude to fate. He believed that destiny will run its own course, and his only responsibility was to his own conscience.

One day, Frank’s name appeared on the list for transportation to a ‘rest camp’. The other prisoners were all convinced that this was nothing more than a euphemism for ‘gas chamber’, but Frankl did nothing to get his name crossed off the list – even when the camp’s chief doctor told him he only had to ask.

I told him that this was not my way; that I had learned to let fate take its course. … He shook my hand silently, as though it were a farewell, not for life, but from life.

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The Victor Frankl 5-a-Day Book Cult: Day 11

Today’s pages (p60-64) start with the observation that, in the desperate fight for survival, the inmates could easily lose the feeling of being an individual with ‘inner freedom and personal value’.

He thought of himself then as only a part of an enormous mass of people; his existence descended to the level of animal life.

Victor Frankl notices that the inmates started to behave like sheep, when herded from one place to another by the guards.

[W]e, the sheep, thought of two things only – how to evade the bad dogs and how to get a little food. Just like sheep that crowd timidly into the centre of a herd, each of us tried to get into the middle of our formations.

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