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Isn't it pretty?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Man's Search for Meaning

I've been reading Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. Frankl is a Holocaust survivor who used his experiences during that time to develop the existential approach to psychotherapy. The book is about his experiences and his psychological observations of himself and his fellow concentration camp prisoners. I've just started the book, but I was so blown away by what I read last night that I had to post about it. He describes their harrowing routine of being literally worked to death while being fed tiny scraps of sustenance completely inadequate to sustain life. Frankl chronicles an incident where one of his fellow inmates mentions their wives. Frankl is tranported by this mention. At the thought of his wife's face, her voice, and his incredible love for her, he drifts away into a fantasy land where he is carrying on a conversation with her. While continuing the arduous work before him, he is suddenly lifted from the drudgery. Frankl writes: I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way - an honorable way - in such a position a man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carried of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. I can't imagine that every marriage and every love is as strong as Frankl's, but it certainly gives something to aspire to. A love that can transcend the most horrible torture, and raise one above it. I know I haven't yet experienced such a deep love, but I want to.

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