Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued, it must ensue

Viktor E Frankl, was an eminent psychiatrist who gained fame during the post-WWII era as a propounder of Logotherapy. In "Man's Search For Meaning", Frankl chronicles the time he spent as concentration camp inmate under Nazi rule. On second thoughts, calling it a chronicle would not be totally correct because, the events are described in no particular order. Understandably though, since the author's main intention, as he mentions at the outset, is to look at his experiences in concentration camp from a psychological perspective.

Frankl has come to believe that "Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but
one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any
given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way
". Even in the most despairing of circumstances, a person can find his motivation(s) which help him maintain his own and ride through the rough weather. He talks about the experiences in the concentration camp in three phases - the shock phase when a person is introduced to the harsh realities, the phase of indifference when a person does not care of his life which has supposedly reached a nadir and the time after concentration camp when he is unable to come to terms with the freedom. Frankl remembers the night after they were freed, when many of his camp mates were ashamed of not being able to enjoy the freedom which they had so longed for.

Breaking away from prevalant school of thought which believed that a man's actions are shaped by his surroundings and circumstances; Frankl says, whatever the situation, we can always choose our actions. As an example he talks of Capos - Jewish heads of concentration camps who used to treat the inmates as badly as the Germans, if not worse. He also talks of "the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their
last piece of bread".

Apart from insights into the human mind, the book also gives a peek into the atrocities and living conditions in concentration camps. According to Frankl, "he has been lucky to have been able to come out of it alive, when the better ones among them could not".

Overall, a really good book worth reading and thinking on. As in the words of Francis Bacon "
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested". This is a book to be digested.

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