Summary Of Mans Search For Meaning

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Summary of the concentration camp years of Man’s Search for Meaning: Conquering the numerous rigors of Nazi concentration camps, Viktor E. Frankl, internationally known psychiatrist, bestows his first hand knowledge of man’s plight to find out who he is and how he fits in this world through the writing in his timeless book, Man’s Search for Meaning. In the first part of the book, he shares his ideas of how and why man can survive and cling to life; drawing on such simple things as memories, talents to be used, love for those dearest to him, or what hope the future might hold; while trying to survive the daily battles of existence in a concentration camp. In an attempt to show the different stages a person goes through as they adjust to life as a prisoner of war, Frankl shares his own experiences and how they affect him and those around him. Ultimately, Frankl concludes that no matter what experiences a man goes through, whether severe or not, there is nothing to fear, only God (93). The first stage all the prisoners went through was shock: the shock of leaving loved ones behind and of the ugliness, suffering, and pain that now engulfed them. The experience of “being” someone to becoming a number, coupled with the idea that a mere wave of a finger could mean life or death, only added to the shock factor. Moreover, this was the point when the inmate realized that his whole existence was gone. Frankl comments, “I struck out my whole former life” (14, 53). The stark realization that they were nobody, which only took a few days according to Frankl, drove the prisoners into the next stage, apathy (20). As the prisoner transitioned from the shock stage, where feelings were still on the surface of his mind, to the point where the ugliness did not bother him anymore due to shutting his mind off as a means of self preservation, he fell into a state of apathy.
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