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Compassion and survival...

"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

The first part of the book is an autobiographical account of the authors time in a concentration camp and what coping mechanisms he used to survive and ultimately "heal" and become stronger afterwards.  It is detailed and descriptive in the sense it puts the reader in his shoes and we get to learn about capos or the SS guards who are, lets say, opportunists who lack any form of moral compass.  (Falling under psychological egoism in a philosophical sense...)  The story appeals because it shows that humans need a purpose and a motivation to cope with seeing loved ones killed or taken away;  He asks us and makes us think about what would we do and how would we be able to cope with these extreme situations and happenings?  Viktor seems to focus on love as a potential solution regarding hate...  Let us focus on this segment from the book for a few moments:  “Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.”  How can we apply this to loving someone who hates us and is trying to kill us?  I disagree that we need love to understand someone else (sometimes it could be true but not always and definitely doesn't apply for everyone), especially when it comes to extremists for example, however what we do need to understand another person is to examine their thinking, their values and their actions.  

The second part of the book is more about (from the synopsis) Frankl's theory-known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos ("meaning")-holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.
“According to logotherapy, we can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.”
I thought this would be ideal for teaching in a psychology lesson and also thought provoking on so many levels.  I was reminded of Socrates saying about the main virtue in life, isn't even necessarily happiness or suffering (although the whole sociological "experience" can and does shape our characters for most of us and clearly it has done so here for Viktor)  it is about knowledge.  All these different consisting parts regarding our perception and what we experience from others can improve us or give us these layers that relate to creativity and empathy (although empathy can be manipulated so should be accompanied by scepticism or defensive measures depending on who you are dealing with...). 
I can see myself reading this again and will surely be reading some more of Frankl's works at a later date.  Whether you agree or disagree with some aspects, like I did, it provides a detailed examination into the various motivations that drive human beings.

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”

Added by Lexi
6 months ago on 23 April 2018 12:37