Mans Search For Meaning




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