Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Man's Search For Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl was first published in 1946. Among the many interesting insights into how people survive in difficult times, Viktor Frankl brought oft quoted words to many leaders of our time. One such quote is:
"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."

Frankl's book was written at first as an anonymous recollection of his time in Auschwitz. He wrote it so that people would never forget what had happened in the death camps. After some prodding he agreed to put his name to the text, and later he would add his writing on Logotherapy, a form of psychotherapy he had developed using his learnings and insights into how people survived and didn't survive the horror of the torture of the camps.

For Frankl, his survival came when he realized that they couldn't take away his ability to choose how he saw himself and how he interpreted what was happening to him. As he was suffering numerous medical experiments he chose to remove himself from the pain and instead imagine himself lecturing to his own medical students back at the university. In that moment he became the one in control of his response. His ability to choose his response gave him the ability to survive, to live to tell his story.

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