A Man's Search for Meaning: Victor Frankl
We all interpret our lives in individual ways. Our experiences and even our current situations play a role in how we interpret our existence. How we perceive ourselves in extremely stressful situations can greatly affect our own well- being. How concentration camp prisoners interpreted their circumstances affected if they survived or not.
Many of the prisoners had to strike out their entire former lives. This was due to how abruptly their lives had changed. They now based their days on when and if they eat, the manual labor required of them, and if they could sleep or not. Always in the back of their minds was the fear of the gas chambers. The inmates had to except the fact that they were in a seemingly hopeless situation. There was always a constant danger of death looming over them. Over time, a prisoner's emotions dulled.
Frankl described a scene were he worked in a hut with typhus patients: "After one of them had just died, I watched without any emotional upset the scene that followed, which was repeated over and over again with each death." Prisoners had to overcome the reality of death and use to their advantage. After a person died, many inmates ravaged the body for anything that could prolong their own existence.
Frankl stated, "Apathy, the main symptom of the second phase, was a necessary mechanism of self-defense. Reality dimmed, and all efforts and all emotions were centered on one task: preserving ones' own life and that of the other fellow." The majority of prisoners had to concentrate on just saving their own skin. This led to a total disregard of anything not serving that purpose. "This explained the prisoner's complete lack of sentiment," explained Frankl. A man in a...