Dante Alighieri's inscription on the entrance to Hell.
The entrance to the feared death camp of Auschwitz, author-psychoanalyst
Viktor Frankl's home as prisoner of conscience of the Third Reich.
from Man's Search for Meaning
by Viktor Frankl
ARE YOU PRONE TO DESPAIR?
I highly recommend this book for anyone who questions life and wonders if ithas any meaning or value. Frankl's reason for writing his life affirming book:
"I had wanted simply to convey to the reader by way of concrete example that life holds a potential meaning under any conditions, even the most miserable ones. And I thought that if the point were demonstrated in a situation as extreme as that in a concentration camp, my book might gain a hearing. I therefore feltresponsible for writing down what I had gone through, for I thought it might be helpful to people who are prone to despair."
"WHY DO YOU NOT COMMIT SUICIDE?"
DR. FRANKL ASKS HIS PATIENTS
from preface to Man's Search for Meaning by Gordon W. Allport
"...in one life there is love for one's children to tie to; in another life, a talent to be used; in a third, perhaps only lingeringmemories worth preserving... As a long-time prisoner in bestial concentration camps he [Viktor Frankl] found himself stripped to naked existence. His father, mother, brother, and his wife died in camps or were sent to gas ovens, so that, excepting for his sister, his entire family perished in these camps. How could he - every possession lost, every value destroyed, suffering from hunger, cold andbrutality, hourly expecting extermination - how could he find life worth preserving?"
Even in the degradation and abject misery of a concentration camp, Frankl was able to exercise the most important freedom of all - the freedom to determine one's own attitude and spiritual well-being. No sadistic Nazi SS guard was able to take that away from him or control the inner-life of Frankl's soul. Oneof the ways he found the strength to fight to stay alive and not lose hope was to think of his wife. Frankl clearly saw that it was those who had nothing to live for who died quickest in the concentration camp.
"He who has a why for life can put with any how."
Frankl wrote the following while
being marched to forced labor in a Nazi concentration camp:
Westumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road running through the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Anyone with very sore feet supported himself on his neighbor's arm. Hardly a word was spoken; the icy wind did not encourage talk. Hiding his hand behind his upturned collar, the man marchingnext to me whispered suddenly: "If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don't know what is happening to us."
That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind. And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another on and upward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of hiswife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife's image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look then was more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth--that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through...