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January 06, 2009

Viktor Frankl's _Man's Search for Meaning_


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Posted by lhobbs at January 6, 2009 11:35 PM

 

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Readers' Comments:

Sarah Tatko
Dr. Hobbs
Eng-345
17 February 2009
Frankl Response
When I first started reading this book I was taking a lot of notes on how Frankl’s approach to telling his story is so different than Borowski and Nomberg. I found it intriguing that he wanted to focus on the prisoner’s state of mind and how prison life affected them psychologically. However, I got to one section on page 53 and read this:
There was a young prisoner whose brother was not on the list and therefore would have to be left behind. The young man begged so long that the camp warden decided to work an exchange, and the brother took the place of a man who, at the moment, preferred to stay behind [. . .] The brother just exchanged numbers with the other prisoner. (Frankl 53)
After reading this section I immediately put the book down and wrote my response. I am writing this response less as an English major and more as a sister.
Something in this passage instantly drove me to tears because I could feel the love between the brothers and knew that my sister would have done the same thing to be with me; even if it meant death. How could I experience such emotion from one little passage where the author does not even go into detail? I believe the reason is because of Frankl’s attention to the human mind rather than the experiences of the prisoners. He set us up, as readers, to understand the journey the psyche of the prisoners went through while in the camp and without any detail or provocation I was able to understand the thoughts and feelings of those two brothers.
Family is what keeps a lot of these prisoners alive. It kept Frankl hopeful and strong as he imagined conversations with his own wife. We know from previous readings that some prisoners did not feel the same way. For example in Borowski when a mother denies that the little girl following behind her is her daughter. Yet, deep down inside that was some form of self-preservation. Now reading about the brother trading spots with a fellow prisoner in order to remain with his lifeline is both thought provoking and heartwarming. Thanks to Frankl’s psychological approach to life in a concentration camp I was able to get a new understanding of the lives these prisoners led.

Work Cited
Frankl, Viktor E. Man’s Search for Meaning. Boston: Beacon, 2006.

Posted by: Sarah T. at February 16, 2009 07:31 PM

Sarah Tatko
Dr. Hobbs
Eng-345
17 February 2009
Frankl Response
When I first started reading this book I was taking a lot of notes on how Frankl’s approach to telling his story is so different than Borowski and Nomberg. I found it intriguing that he wanted to focus on the prisoner’s state of mind and how prison life affected them psychologically. However, I got to one section on page 53 and read this:
There was a young prisoner whose brother was not on the list and therefore would have to be left behind. The young man begged so long that the camp warden decided to work an exchange, and the brother took the place of a man who, at the moment, preferred to stay behind [. . .] The brother just exchanged numbers with the other prisoner. (Frankl 53)
After reading this section I immediately put the book down and wrote my response. I am writing this response less as an English major and more as a sister.
Something in this passage instantly drove me to tears because I could feel the love between the brothers and knew that my sister would have done the same thing to be with me; even if it meant death. How could I experience such emotion from one little passage where the author does not even go into detail? I believe the reason is because of Frankl’s attention to the human mind rather than the experiences of the prisoners. He set us up, as readers, to understand the journey the psyche of the prisoners went through while in the camp and without any detail or provocation I was able to understand the thoughts and feelings of those two brothers.
Family is what keeps a lot of these prisoners alive. It kept Frankl hopeful and strong as he imagined conversations with his own wife. We know from previous readings that some prisoners did not feel the same way. For example in Borowski when a mother denies that the little girl following behind her is her daughter. Yet, deep down inside that was some form of self-preservation. Now reading about the brother trading spots with a fellow prisoner in order to remain with his lifeline is both thought provoking and heartwarming. Thanks to Frankl’s psychological approach to life in a concentration camp I was able to get a new understanding of the lives these prisoners led.

Work Cited
Frankl, Viktor E. Man’s Search for Meaning. Boston: Beacon, 2006.

Posted by: Sarah T. at February 16, 2009 07:31 PM

Jessica P.
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 340
2/17/09

Reflections on Man’s Search for Meaning

Viktor E. Frankl’s book, “Man’s search for meaning”, recounts Frankl’s experience at Auschwitz. Giving an unusual perspective, the book describes the prisoners fight for survival as their psychological stages were slowly being broken down by the horrors of the camp. A book about survival, Frankl, a psychiatrist, recounts the lessons that he learned, overall concluding that life is a quest for meaning which cannot be taken away despite one’s circumstances. Frankl states that each person has to search for their unique life meaning. Should readers take this for truth or is there a single purpose of life? Further, did Frankl come to this conclusion based on his observations of the prisoners or is this his own intuition?

“For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment” (108). Frankl states here that meaning is relative to the individual. It was interesting to read that those at the camp, who had hope and a life purpose, were more likely to survive longer than those that did not. Frankl noted that the emergence of apathy was the last stage before death. Thus, having a meaning to life is the key to inner strength and survival.

I agree with Frankl, that humans need a purpose to live a meaningful life. However, I do not agree that life’s meaning is relative to the moment or individual as there is a greater purpose that all humans are called to. From Biblical truths, I believe that man’s ultimate purpose is to glorify God. With this universal purpose, people would have an inner sense of peace that could not be taken away despite surrounding circumstances. The prisoners who knew that this world was just a temporary home were able to cope with the horrors of the camp better because they knew that they had an eternal home with their savior waiting for them.

It was interesting to note Frankl’s description of the people who did not conform to their circumstances. Based on his observations, he came to the conclusion that man ultimately decides what becomes of him. In the concentration camp, the prisoners who kept their dignity and continually sought to help others are proof that every thing can be taken away from someone, but it is their decision to decide how they are going to respond. Although circumstances and people may affect one’s decisions, ultimately it is one’s decision to make his choices. Frankly, this can be a hard reality to accept as blame is shifted away from others and placed back on the individual.

Fankel, Viktor E. Man’s Search For Meaning. Trans. Ilse Lasch. Boston: Beacon Press,
2006.

Posted by: Jessica Pall at February 17, 2009 01:24 PM

Jennifer Merrigan
Feb. 17, 2009
Hobbs
ENG 340
Man’s Search for Meaning


I had read this once before when I was in high school, and it didn’t have nearly the same impact on me as it did this time. The story of Frankl’s experience is as unique as is his development of logotherapy. I have never seen a man experience something so traumatic and be able to make sense of it. He is able to find reason in suffering and take it as a part of his life that he must overcome in order to overcome his next obstacle. His theory, after really trying to understand, it has made me look at life through completely different eyes. Throughout his experiences he has not only been able to keep his head on straight through those torturous times, but he has been able to keep up the moral of his peers, even through his own suffering.
In his explanation of logotherapy he describes the meaning of life as not a single entity, there is no one meaning to life. It is a collection of obstacles that each of us must overcome, and therefore the meaning of life is unique to each of us. Many of the prisoners in the concentration camp would tell him that they had nothing to life for because they could see no future for themselves, but Frankl would try to express to them that there is a future, and there is a purpose to their lives and their suffering, and if they have purpose then they can accomplish almost anything. I feel that most of us really need to try and live through that knowledge that we all have a purpose, and more importantly we need to take life’s obstacles as they come.

Posted by: J.Merrigan at February 17, 2009 01:27 PM

Erin Kollar

Hobbs

Holocaust

17 February 2009

Reply to Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

I like how the book was divided up into two main sections (camp life and then philosophy). I thought Frankl was scared to talk about his time at the camps and uses logotherapy as an excuse to avoid the subject. He does touch on camp life but states in the beginning he won't go into detail since many people have already talked about it. While this does seem plausible, it seems more born out of fear than not wanting to take up space. Though there is a lack of detail about camp life, it is still detailed enough to give a sense of what life was like. His talking about the camp life always went back into philosophy.

Frankl does prove a good point of the first part being needed for the second part. The reason for this is that it PROVES that he has lived his theories. This is refreshing at times when people will speak more than do. It makes Frankl a more believable person to listen to when he goes into talking about logotherapy. I like the quote "No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him (111)." Frankl goes on to say that people need to know that people care about them. It is this loss of feeling that proves the ultimate demise (death) of a person.

The fact that Frankl wrote this book in only nine days (if we are to believe him) shows that he needed to write about his experiences. He writes about his camp experience, while only touching on the "important parts", and then talks about logotherapy to help people deal with their hard times. I like how the loss of jobs affects people since the US is going into a depression. This makes it touch modern day life.

Posted by: Erin Kollar at February 17, 2009 01:44 PM

Emily Belvo
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 340
February 17, 2009
Review over Viktor E. Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”
In reading the manuscript “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl, the true meaning of this book is clearly stated in the title. In the first part of this book, Frankl relays certain stages and specific characteristics that a man in the concentration camps went through. The first stage is the “period following his admission” (Frankl 8). In this stage, the specific characteristic that overcomes the inmate is of shock. Everything that is happening in his surrounding is going on so fast, and the brutality that is witness sends the inmate of the concentration camp into shock. The second stage an inmate receives is “the period when he is well entrenched in camp routine” (Frankl 8). In this position, the inmate’s emotional characteristic is apathy. In Frankl’s case, it literally took a few weeks until he entered this phase. Apathy in the camp is when everything around you, brutality, suffering and death has no effect on an individual than it would seeing it for the first time. The only thing on an inmates mind in this stage is survival of one’s self. The last stage of an inmate’s time in a camp is the “period following his release and liberation” (Frankl 8). In this stage, the characteristic noticed is of disillusionment. Of all three stages, Frankl points out that disillusionment is the hardest to get rid of and takes years upon years before one is totally out of this state. In disillusionment, the victim constantly second guesses the fact that he is free and will not be harmed as was before in the concentration camp. Frankl’s accounts in this book reflect off of the psychological process of a prisoner than his own experience. Frankl does give examples of his experience to give an example for a psychological meaning.
Frankl, in his second section, offers information of his specialty, Logotherapy. He states that in Logotherapy, one may have to hear things that may be hard to hear, but gives a different meaning to the patients suffering. The horrific tales in Frankl’s experience in the various camps he was sent to gives light to important and favorable questions asked about the Holocaust. He answers such questions as why the SS men and Capos could do such violent acts on human beings, why people had so much hope for life, and how optimism actually reined supreme and saved lives in such a disturbing atmosphere. Frankl’s accounts in this book were interesting and the presentation in which he decided to view his camp experience helped me understand better how one actually could cope with Concentration camp life. I liked especially how Frankl broke down the psyche of the experience of a prisoner in a concentration camp in order for his audience to get a better and closer understanding of life in Auschwitz. Frankl states that a man’s search for meaning is for a man to make a purpose out of life and accomplish to his best ability. This book gives hope to those people who had to suffer such agonies and it also make them understand that they are not alone in their sufferings and can be cured if they want it for themselves. Frankl states that we may have everything taken away except for one thing: the freedom to choose how we deal with a situation.

Posted by: Emily Belvo at February 17, 2009 02:17 PM

A Man’s Search for Meaning

Viktor Frankl’s story about the Holocaust takes on a different point of view than the others. Frankl looks at the psychological point of view while he was in the concentration camps. He talks about how everyone who was in the camps, how they looked at their life. Some questioned “Why me?” and others just let it happen and tried to make the best of the situation. Some couldn’t handle the stress, not eating and being treated as bad as they were so some just killed themselves. A lot people while they were in the camps gave them time to think about their lives and question about what their life was about and how they could make it better or even if life was worth living anymore. Frankl also said that those who commit suicide are people who lose hope and don’t know the meaning to life.
Frankl classifies the meaning of life in three different ways, the first is that one can perform a deed. Second is one can experience something or encounter someone and then thirdly one can demonstrate an attitude towards suffering. There were some people who although were in a negative form of life saw that the good could come from getting out of the camps. The fact that they were meant get out to do better and live a different life. Frankl also makes a comment talking about that no matter what situation a person is given they have a chance to look at it from two point of views, whether it be negative or positive. People who died in the camps didn’t get a chance to find meaning in their life or to find a better life. Those who came out, came out stronger and found a better life and the meaning to life as well.

Posted by: Renee Forer at February 17, 2009 02:29 PM

Monefa Furlongue
Eng 340
Dr. Hobbs
February 17, 2009
Reading the book Man’s Search for Meaning was kind of a hard read because of the way he told his story. Since the story was told through a psychological point of view the reader was able to get inside the heads of the prisoners. Yes, all the writers that we have read so far told the reader the similar story of what they went through while being in the camps and how it scarred them mentally. Frankl was able to give actual psychological terms to explain what he was going through.
Through out the first part of the book he mentions a tale called “ Death in Teheran”, which is about a servant who tries to run away from death but ends up running into his death in Teheran. I found that him using this tale as an example of what the prisoners were feeling to be quite ironic, because all those prisoners wanted to run but most always ended up dead, just as the servant in story. This showed how the people did not care much for life any more. And as Frankl goes on to tell his story he says that he is able to keep himself from being like those people.
By him being honest with himself and the others around him about the situation they were in it kept him from committing suicide. I thought this to be a good rule of his to live by. Even though most of the other prisoners were not able to stand the fact of what was happening to them. Many people believed that there would be no way that someone could stay semi positive through such a period of time and the harsh surroundings they were in, but Frankl found away by being honest, and doing soul searching.
In the second part of his book Frankl says, “Man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a “secondary rationalization” of instinctual drives.” (p.99). Which explains what he was doing to keep his mind off of what was happening around him. Many people, even today have a hard time with the idea of searching for meaning in what they do in life. I think if people no matter what their situation can do this and use it as a motivation for life then they can get through any trials and tribulation in their lives.


Frankl, Viktor E., Man’s Search for Meaning Beacon Press 2006, Boston Massachusetts

Posted by: Monefa Furlongue at February 17, 2009 03:07 PM

Lori Perreault
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 340
18 February 2009
The Stages of Acceptance
In Man’s Search for Meaning Viktor E. Frankl intends to describe the way inmates react to life in the camp. The main question that he strives to answer is: “How was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner” (3). In the first section of the book he goes on to answer this question. Inmates go through three stages; the first stage occurs upon admittance to the camp, the second after one no longer flinches while seeing the horrors, and the last after release from the camp.
Frankl’s memoir is wandering and makes little sense at points. It is easy to read but does not keep interest easily. He does not include other inmates or SS men’s names, only the first letter, “Dr. M------. . . had a soft spot for doctors” (19). The memoir is mainly about how his transcript was lost and how he began to reconstruct it, and the three stages of inmates mind sets. The first stage is shock, the second apathy, and the third being moral deformity after release. Frankl also writes about how to keep ones inner faith intact, which is rather interesting. He comments that this is one way that morals will stay intact after release.

Work’s cited
Frankl, Viktor E. Man's Search for Meaning. Trans. Ilse Lasch. New York: Beacon P, 2006.

Posted by: Lori Perreault at February 17, 2009 03:16 PM

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