Viktor E. Frankl: Fact? Fiction?..or TRUTH?
Viktor E. Frankl’s vivid memoir, Man’s Search for Meaning, has seriously riveted his readers since its publicationover 50 years ago. Frankl dives deep into uncharted territories of the psychological aspect of survival in some of the most fierce and gruesome venues in human history, the Nazi concentration camps. Frankl shows unprecedented inside psychological knowledge. This book is exceptionally important historically. It gives a vivid account of what a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp experienced and what mental state he was in during each phase of their imprisonment. He also goes into detail on the reasons why the survivors outlasted so ...view middle of the document...
He is implying that after the initial shock of the horrid conditions these human beings were being subjected to, even the fear of death had no power over them. He states that, "The thought of suicide was entertained by everyone, if only for a short time” (36).
Next, Frankl talks about “numbness.” Without hope, nor fear of death, these prisoners weren’t even afraid of the gas chambers. They viewed them as a means of saving them the trouble of committing suicide. Also, in this stage Frankl explains he would watch men being beaten to death without so much as a blink or bat of the eye.
Frankl continued on to add a piece on imprisonment, “apathy.” By definition apathy is absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement. He goes on to explain that this was, in fact, the worst possible situation for these prisoners. They would just let themselves go. He explains that their lack of self preservation lead to deterioration of their physical and mental appearance, which inevitably lead to their certain selection to die. Frankl explains that the best method to avoid coming to this point is to release themselves from the emptiness. What little they could do, was keep their sense of humor, and point out the natural beauty of the world, such as a sunset. Frankl shares many more of his experiences, and lastly explains how a prisoner reacts after liberation. He shares how that even after rescue, a prisoner had a hard time escaping the apathy that had
encompassed his whole life. Frankl shares an example, "We came to meadows full of flowers. We saw and realized what they were, but had no feelings about them. (109)" This represents how hard the transition from a death camp into real life must have been. He goes on to explain how a prisoner had lost the ability to feel joy, and had to relearn the ability slowly. He adds that the more primitive prisoners upon release would reek havoc on the communities. They went from being the oppressed to being the oppressors. In other words, they became accustomed to the extreme violence and bloodshed while being detained within the camps, so when released into the free world once more some of the previously calm, humane individuals found themselves committing acts as despicable as the Nazi’s were performing previously. Frankl’s book concludes with a look into logotherapy.
Though many people do not take all accounts of these memoirs to be considered factitious, I do believe this book is a great representation of the general situations and psychological states of prisoners help in the Nazi concentration camps throughout portions of World War Two. Frankl’s insight and knowledge is incomparable to any other psychological analysis of this time period due to his own personal involvement and personal ties into the world of psychology and Logotherapy. With his depictions of personal experiences with people in every conceivable mindset throughout his time spent in the various camps, I believe that we have...