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BOOK Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl

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As selected for this month's book reading per the vote here.

Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl



As for the format for this discussion, we will not RATE like normal since this material is very different than business books.

Simply share your thoughts, your takeaways, and how (or if) the book was able to change you, or shift your perspective.
 

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Roulf

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One of the most important books I ever read. Since I'm from Brazil and crimes go rampant there, I always wondered if people have a choice in their actions. If true "society victims" exist or if it's always someone's choice.

This book in itself makes a strong argument on "the last of a man's freedom", the freedom of choice. Like DeMarco says on TMF, people choose poorly and have to face consequences related to those choices. Independently of the circumstances, it is still their choices.

Overall a great book, made me really think a lot about accountability.
 

SeePetey

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A powerful book on so many levels. While I doubt I'll ever find myself in the desperate circumstances that Dr Frankl experienced, most all of us can easily identify ourselves as members of what Thoreau aptly described as the mass of men leading lives of quiet desperation. Frankl's experiences, and the practical lessons for coping that he teaches, are powerful lessons for all of us.

I re-read this book every year or two, and I gift it frequently.

I found it quite interesting when he talked about how one of the worst parts about being in the camp was the complete loss of control of any aspect of the prisoners' lives, and how without something to strive for or a purpose, so many people just gave up and died that might have otherwise lived.

Also, after his notes and manuscript were taken away from him, and how the desire to write and publish this manuscript gave him a thread of some hope to a life beyond the death camps, there's something we can all learn from that, especially in the context of what's typically discussed on this forum. He demonstrates that without challenges or meaning in our lives, the absence of them can literally kill us. And that having a "why", no matter how tenuous it may seem at the dark and desperate moments, when pursued it can grow into something that has a positive influence on millions.

He wrote: " What man actually needs is not a tension-less state, but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him."

Look at overnight celebrities and lottery winners. Even when provided everything they could need to sustain them for the rest of their lives, the lack of focus/purpose/meaning eats away at them and the usually crash and burn hard.
 

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Just read it for the first time. Powerful. Will have to go back to it again regularly.

The most important takeaway for me is that when we're presented with a situation in which we suffer, and where we have no choice BUT to suffer, we still have the power to choose how we respond to that suffering. This is our one true inalienable right. Every single other right can be taken away from us. All of it. Even our right to life. But we can choose how we face those losses.

One interesting logical consequence of this is that, if we can lose our right to life, then we can choose how we die. But, death can happen in an instant without us preparing for it or expecting it. In that sense, every moment of our lives could be one in which everything is lost. But, knowing this, we have the power to choose how to react to that truth. This, again, is our one true inalienable right.

There are other takeaways, too, such as the observation of how other men deal with that choice. SS men remaining decent and charitable, and prisoners debasing themselves completely.

Also, this book is probably the most Buddhist book ever read, despite having been written by a Jewish psychologist.
 

guy93777

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I often gift this book when someone's dealing with depression.

The book perfectly explains why some of us choose to live, whereas some of us choose to give up. Everyone needs some sort of meaning and purpose in their life.
Most people look at life from their point of view ( i am a winner or loser . i want this , i don't care about society ). A few guys look at life from a superior point of view: the meaning of life , what really matters, what's the purpose of a society, and so on.
In business, we need to look at life from the customer's point of view as well which means a point of view beyond ours. The Scam artists do the same thing : " how can i use the weakness and point of view of this guy ". In chess, there are 4 principles : Patience, a sense of timing, knowledge of the opponent, willingness to make any and all sacrifice.
 

Bhanu

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Beautiful book . Tells you about Power of choices we make . A good choice can sustain you through something as terrible as living in a Nazi camp . As per the book those who give up on their meaning/aim in life died in all probability in the camps.Shows how powerful having a purpose in life can be .I also see this book tacitly proving why capitalism is the best possible system a society/human can have . A human can only be happy if he is fighting for a purpose voluntarily. Capitalism allows you to do whatever you want ,become what you want. With communism you are deprived of this choice .There is a reason why caged animal in zoo are unhappy . They dont need security / definite food/comfort ,they need freedom . I see it as Communism >> Zoo with all comfort but no choice . Capitalism >> an open jungle with no comfort but freedom to choose.
 
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Bhanu

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As selected for this month's book reading per the vote here.

Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl



As for the format for this discussion, we will not RATE like normal since this material is very different than business books.

Simply share your thoughts, your takeaways, and how (or if) the book was able to change you, or shift your perspective.
M J not sure how to reach you so posting here. Could you please check your book Unscripted is not available on Audible in India . I wanted to buy it . I have the hard copy but wanted audible copy too.
 

Jeff Noel

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M J not sure how to reach you so posting here. Could you please check your book Unscripted is not available on Audible in India . I wanted to buy it . I have the hard copy but wanted audible copy too.
There's a "Contact Us" link at the bottom of this forum.
 

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JunkBoxJoey_JBJ

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I was going to write a summary of the book and what I thought, but by far @The-J 's was so good I’ll leave it alone. His summary is an excellent description.

So let me give you a small example within the book’s larger impact. Weather.

I, like @MJ DeMarco grew up and lived in a four-season climate. Over time, in my mid-twenties I could feel myself becoming a Negative-Nelly about the cold, snow and rain (among other things too, no doubt as I look back). But let’s stick to weather.

At one point I made a change and moved to a very sunny climate spending a decade there. It was wonderful for about the first 8 years until legitimate, FTE, life events took place. I only mention MJ because while I read his book, the page where he describes sitting in the Limo in the snow had me laughing (been there, done that, just not a Limo). I can still see those windshield wipers in front of me and hear myself bitching about my glasses fogging up.

After 5 years of being home in ever-changing weather, I am still dancing in the rain!

This is not a trivial statement and I make it with all do respect to Man’s Search for Meaning. Looking back I also know part of the problem was that I too was struggling with, what is the meaning of life?

I read Man’s Search for meaning in 2014 when I arrived back in a four-season climate. Along with other mental take-a-ways from Dr. Frankel’s book I decided to try and never complain about the weather again. In fact I decided to make ONE sincere change of my mind-set based off the book and it was weather. I felt awful complaining about weather after reading the camp struggles and absolute suffering. There was no magic bullet and I am not sure if I can even describe “how to” except to say, this book without any bullsht has been one to have had an actual impact on my life.

I felt if I went to change too many things at once it would be a disaster and may result in failure(s). Having been through my own personal journey of bologna and bullsht weather would be the test, because I thought escaping it might actually change my life. I think the sun did initially change my life or at least mask my attitude for a while, but I wasn’t looking at my journey through the same lenses then. And the disclaimer; living in the sun is fantastic and a lot of fun, but it wasn’t weather that was my particular problem, it was my mind-set and me.

In conclusion, I just re-read (2019) and I know many members struggle with “things”...just scroll through the posts. I hope all of you will read Man’s Search for Meaning as you may actually discover you are struggling with “What is the Meaning of Life?” and you didn’t even know “that” was an actual “thing” to discover. If that happens to be the case, you should be able to discover this after full completion of the book. And after completion of Man's Search for Meaning, I feel one would be hard pressed not to look at suffering and life differently.
 

SeanC

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I wasn't expecting much from this book, but it's a gem.

When a quote from a book strikes me, I take a picture of the page and write it down. The problem with this book is that I had to take pictures of and write down almost every paragraph.

My main takeaways:

1. Find purpose in every decision you make - large and small. Assert your freedom and autonomy with those decisions. Every step you take is significant, even if it seems like a grind.

2. When you feel like things suck, 99.9% of the time they're not that bad. Even though Viktor doesn't go into too much detail on the horrors of the camps, it's easy to see how a bad day, failed business, or financial trouble really aren't that bad - you're still alive, not facing imminent death, and relatively comfortable.

Two parts that particularly stood out:

Passage 1:


"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread.

They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. And there were always choices to make.

Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determine whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determine whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstances, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate
."

Passage 2:

"Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him - mentally and spiritually. He may retain his human dignity even in a concentration camp.

Dostoevski said once, "There is only one thing I dread; not to be worthy of my sufferings." These words came to mind after I became acquainted with those martyrs whose behavior in came, whose suffering and death, bore witness to the fact that the last inner freedom cannot be lost.

It can be said that they were worthy of their sufferings; the way they bore their suffering was a genuine inner achievement. It is this spiritual freedom - which cannot be taken away - that makes life meaningful and purposeful."
 

0dysseus

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Amazing read. Amazing.

Reminds me of the stoic phylosophy. The guy endured everything, there is hardly anything worse that can happen to a human being. Even better than the book, he later went on and had a successful, fulfilled life, not allowing the horrors he witnessed and persevered destroy him.

But I loved the part when he didn't board the truck for some reason, and later all of those who did were dead (I think it was like that, read it a long time ago). No matter what you do, you always need a bit of luck. It's not all in your control. So no point in beating yourself up even for your failures.

I see this book as a must-read on so many lists. It deserves that entirely.
 

Primeperiwinkle

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I completely agree with everyone above. This is obviously a classic for a very good reason. Deep book. But I have a question.

I read the first half pretty quickly and immediately saw myself gifting the book to anyone suffering.

But then I got to the second half and I slowed down quite a bit.. I can’t seem to verbalize how to apply logotherapy in a situation. Have any of you tried to do so to help a friend?

Just before this book I read Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss; it’s very practical. I think my “HOW do I put this into action?” mind is curious.
 

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But then I got to the second half and I slowed down quite a bit.. I can’t seem to verbalize how to apply logotherapy in a situation. Have any of you tried to do so to help a friend?
Being an idiot, I'm always a bit hesitant about offering advice to people dealing with serious issues. You know how it is, sometimes the worst advice we receive comes from ignorant people with the best of intentions. Real therapy is best done by therapists.

So while the book isn't a textbook on logotherapy, it is definitely a useful tool.

As many times as I've given the book away (probably 7-8 times), I've only once sat down with the recipient later and really discussed it at length. So I've got very limited experience in applying it situationally, but my one experience was memorable. I had given it to an ex-girlfriend going through a tough time.

Ours was just a meandering conversation with some depth to it about the tough times, frustrations, fears, etc. But what was unique in the context of your question was that having both read the book and enjoyed it, the book served as something of a conversational "vehicle" that gave our discussion some philosophical direction as difficult subjects were brought up. I know that probably sounds weird, but does it make sense?

It wasn't logotherapy per se, but it was a meaningful conversation guided by the principles in the book (find a purpose) that we both found edifying and useful.
 

Olimac21

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I like to see logotherapy as the will to meaning or the man´s necessity for a well thought purpose to have a directioned life so a way you can put that into practice is just to go deeper into why you are doing what you are currently doing and reframing some of your current challenges.

Something that can help you with this kind of exercise are using critical thinking tools like 5 whys, 5 so what and reframing every difficulty you are having at the moment to "What can I learn from this experience?". A last trick could be to analyze the past and take 1-2 not too obvious learning you got from negative experiences.
 

JamesQB8

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This booked changed my life and outlook for the better.

My biggest takeaway was to be able to endure any challenge or tough situation by comparing it to what Viktor endured himself
 

guy93777

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This booked changed my life and outlook for the better.

My biggest takeaway was to be able to endure any challenge or tough situation by comparing it to what Viktor endured himself

you shoud also read stories about survivors at sea . like this one


24965





i promise you, reat it and you will think that your business problems are just jokes.




.
 

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Primeperiwinkle

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While I haven't read this. Reading some of the reviews here has put this book on my to read list. Loving these discussions - I think I might have to start learning to read a bit quicker!
Don’t beat yourself up. I’m convinced that everybody buys the top two picks weeks before we ever start the discussion. I don’t know why.

I like steeping with the ideas instead. I don’t speed read a book like this, I want to take it slow. Just post what you like when you do have time to read it.
 

SeePetey

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you shoud also read stories about survivors at sea . like this one


View attachment 24965





i promise you, reat it and you will think that your business problems are just jokes.




.
The Forgotten Highlander is another good one.

I really stopped complaining about anything aloud whenever I catch myself after reading that book.
 

Olimac21

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For those who want to get deeper into Frankl´s philosophy or way of seeing challenges, I recommend reading the 3 big names in Stoicism (Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Seneca).
 

guy93777

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The Forgotten Highlander is another good one.

I really stopped complaining about anything aloud whenever I catch myself after reading that book.

thank you.

you know the world has been living "at peace " ( relatively ) since 1945.
but i'm afraid big troubles are coming. according to the pareto principles, 80 % of people will say i'am saying BS . maybe. but i've read hundreds of books for years to see the patterns.
so maybe i'm wrong after 10 years of researching things and maybe people are right while doing nothing to see the global picture. maybe.

the difference is that i will be ready when troubles come and most people won't , again according to the pareto principle.

the world is following this pattern :

24969


insights : capitalism- (thesis )--- communism ( anti thesis )---- new world order ( synthesis )

pareto principle: 80 % of people will say this is BS.

people are very predictable. just ask the NSA for insights about people
 

Bradley R

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One of the very few books I've read more than once. One of the best reminders that even on your worst of days your life you still have it pretty good.

Also some fascinating insights into the minds of who made it through vs. those who didn't. Really a lot of parallels to entrepreneurship in that regard.

I also don't think many people around my age (27) have an appreciation and respect for history and everything that people went through in WWI and WWII.

One of the books that should be required reading for all of the snowflakes walking around today crying because someone online "offended" them, thinking they have it tough. Might give them some perspective
 
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Bertram

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Being an idiot, I'm always a bit hesitant about offering advice to people dealing with serious issues. You know how it is, sometimes the worst advice we receive comes from ignorant people with the best of intentions. Real therapy is best done by therapists.

So while the book isn't a textbook on logotherapy, it is definitely a useful tool.

As many times as I've given the book away (probably 7-8 times), I've only once sat down with the recipient later and really discussed it at length. So I've got very limited experience in applying it situationally, but my one experience was memorable. I had given it to an ex-girlfriend going through a tough time.

Ours was just a meandering conversation with some depth to it about the tough times, frustrations, fears, etc. But what was unique in the context of your question was that having both read the book and enjoyed it, the book served as something of a conversational "vehicle" that gave our discussion some philosophical direction as difficult subjects were brought up. I know that probably sounds weird, but does it make sense?

It wasn't logotherapy per se, but it was a meaningful conversation guided by the principles in the book (find a purpose) that we both found edifying and useful.
Politely edited.

Being an outstanding idiot I often blunder straight into giving advice ... not today.
Great point. The experience you describe is called doing philosophy.
Your description almost matches one made by the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - the Elvis of popular American ballad poems in the 19th century - when he explained the value in reading a giant of a book such a Frankl's, also the Bible or Shakespeare.
A breakthrough book brings a community into existence - its readers. Longfellow wrote that when you simply hold onto a book, just a single valuable book, you and whoever reads start caring for the community's survival. Community and understanding are called into existence by such a book. Anyone, however isolated and disenfranchised, can open the pages and warm up.
For example, the value of the Bible is not in the contents as much as the community created around it. Like TMF, Longfellow's ballads were intended to be life-changing to readers.
MJ Demarco's books go beyond business philosophy. I think these are lasting books..

My friend, a thirtyish software designer whose was permanently damaged by brain surgery last year and forced to leave his creative IT career, can no longer read much, but he relies on Frankl constantly to make sense of existence day after day. "I'm just happy to be alive," he says, often with angry sarcasm as he works a coffee counter making lattes. He is imprisoned by cognitive limitations going forward.
For him it feels like every hour is a matter of choice. I get that, it was my own story for a while. I think this position is a very familiar one for entrepreneurs.
Frankl's book gives my friend the philosophical scaffolding to communicate about everything he has lost, from lost power to lost identity, respect, connection to others, the end of rich perception, lost pleasure, felt emotions, without having lost the will to live. Like Frankl shows, any responsibility for others is a high purpose, and even having no more than the power to notice and assign meaning to the smallest things, that thoughtfulness towards the self, appreciation for others, will keep you going.

The theme of mindfulness in spite of brutalizing emotional numbness is unique to Frankl.

It's fantastic that MJ Demarco has launched this book group. I had a serious author crush going on when I found the TMF. Talk about creating a cultural breakthrough with bombshell books, now he's added a reading group in philosophy and wellbeing.

Thank you everyone who is taking the time to provide reflections here. Talk about elan.
 
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Whiterose

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“He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.”Nietzsche

I heard about this book in another great book which I hope we’ll have a chance to discuss too, since it’s really really interesting and ‘viewpoint changing’ – Start With Why by Simon Sinek.

For me this book was quite an eye-opening because of the certain details and experiences from concentration camps even though the author didn’t focus on that but some facts and vivid pictures were just unavoidable to mention. It made me research a little bit and watch a few documentaries about that period to learn more and refresh lessons learned in school.

A great book written by a great and very, very decent human being, Viktor Frankl.
What is very impressive to me is the fact that after his liberation when he found out that his parents, brother and pregnant wife (who maybe kept him alive during various circumstances and hard periods in camp through imagining talking and spending time with her), he didn’t want to avenge, he wanted no harm to be continued from anybody to anyone or anything. He even hates when his friend from camp dragged him through young crops.

Viktor didn’t even despise his neighbours who most likely knew what was going on but pretended they didn’t and maybe even participated in his persecution.
What I also like so much and have a great respect for is his renouncing of collective guilt. That single act shows the level of his rational thinking and how great human being he IS (he died many years ago, but will live through his books and deeds forever).


The sudden loss of hope and courage can have a deadly effect. - Viktor Frankl
 
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MatthewFoster

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I've seen this book recommended 100 times. It has to be the most recommended book from people that overcome huge obstacles in life. I read it about a year ago. It didn't have the profound impact on me that many readers describe. That's probably because I was already lubed up at the time with other meaning, purpose, and why books. I'm loving the discussion here though. I'm excited to read it again.
 

guy93777

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most people read books or wach movies but they don't change anything in their lives.

the problem is not people but this : Regression toward the mean - Wikipedia

a movie or a book is just that : an evening with emotions . the next day, the laws of life take control back .

our habits of thinking come back : regression toward the mean

this is why it is so difficult to change anything. only things like a " F*** this event " can really change our lifes.
 

OliverR

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most people read books or wach movies but they don't change anything in their lives.

the problem is not people but this : Regression toward the mean - Wikipedia

a movie or a book is just that : an evening with emotions . the next day, the laws of life take control back .

our habits of thinking come back : regression toward the mean

this is why it is so difficult to change anything. only things like a " F*** this event " can really change our lifes.
Like with anything it takes a process, a series of micro events that eventually lead to a macro change. Reading 1 book one time probably wont change much. But reading 1 book a week for a year or two or three will definetly see some change in you.

It is said that your life looks like an average of the 5 people you hang out most with. You can also tweak that and say that your life is an average of the 5 ideas you spend most time with. Many people dont have access to successfull people enough to spend some real time with them. But you do have a chance to read biographies, tactics, immerse yourself in their world and thinking patterns and eventually you will see a change.

The brain is a dynamic organ. Ideas In = Ideas Out. With enough time the more you read the more neural pathways you will create around those ideas and over time those pathways will grow stronger and replace old ones/ideas/mentality/mindset. You can physically rewire your brain over time, which is why for me reading is important because I understand that. And also things that used to not bother me at work or were a mere blip on the radar over time the more I read/learn/take action the more of a F*ck this moment they became and over time that lead to a F*ck this event which forced me out of my comfort zone to take action on my ideas.

So 1 book is a brick, on it's own it probably wont do much but act as a temporary kick in the a$$. Multiply that brick by the houndreds, you will get a wall, go further you will get a house.

/end rant
 

OliverR

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Sry went off topic before. Regarding the book. I read it a few years ago. Powerful story on it's own. One of the key takeaways I still remember and found valuable in this book was the notion of how you should take the worse thing that ever happened to you and figure out how it was a positive event or even the best thing. Or any negative event in your life and how to make peace with it and turn it into a positive frame. One example was how one's significant other died and you reframe it in away that at least you saved him/her the pain of mourning for you had you gone first.

Not sure I would read it again any time soon, but at least for me that was the main actionable item I took away from there.
 

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halfway done with the book, very interesting concentration camp inside story of course but also mixed feelings.

The part about the 12 year old kid forced to stand in the snow and losing his toes to gangrene made me clench my teeth in anger for a bit, it breaks me to hear stories of children suffering.

Regarding the author's attitude about the place, the weird mix of going with the flow of it, finding the bits of hope, distraction, optimism, humor, etc, Im not sure how to feel about it.

On one hand i can see how a man gotta go to weird places psycologically to plain and simple SURVIVE in such inhumane conditions, but on the other hand i get a bit of a lack of defiance in the author.
He did mention that when the guard insulted his character, that's when he snapped back, cause to him that indignity was much worse than pain, but i'm not sure thats enough.

I guess its all a matter of survival, he gotta do what he gotta do, but the part where he says he loudly cheered for one of the lead guards poetry reading because he knew it would reflect positively on him and help him survive, i dont know how i feel about that.

On some level im thinking its better to go out fighting and try to fukin kill the first SS officer to lay a finger on me, but who knows how id act in reality.

I wonder what a guy like David Goggins would do in a concentration camp condition, probably strategically play the sheep game and secretly plot an escape or something.

I'm curious how captured Soviet soldiers behaved in the camps, cause they had a different more aggressive and violent mentality regarding Nazis. Don't know if the author will discuss but we'll see.
 

luniac

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also @MJDemarco, its hard to find this thread sometimes, it was on the front page before, but now its not i think?
I gotta search "book" and scroll to find this thread again.
 

luniac

Gold Contributor
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 7, 2012
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so, finished the book.
Got some mixed feelings.
You know the whole concentration camp part felt a little odd to me, so i googled victor frankl and apparently i'm not the only one with reservations.
There's a whole wikipedia section questioning the authenticity of his concentration camp story.

Even the logotherapy origin story was modified in further editions of the book, originally said to originate directly from his concentration camp experience, but later on revised to say that it got started even before the war.

Supposedly Frankl did some weird post death lobotomy experiments in the camps at the behest of the nazis or something, i didn't read too deep into it.
After the war Frankl stayed in Austria and was criticized by the jews for being sort of forgiving to the people who were complicit in his incarceration, but whatever to each his own right.


Regardless of all that, it was still an interesting read, even though im skeptical regarding philosophical psychotherapy type stuff.
He talk about the modern epidemic of "lack of meaning" in people's lives, that feels accurate to me.
He mentions that this "existential vacuum" is based on depression, aggression, and addiction, which hit close to home for me, cause ive had problems with addiction and depressive feelings.

But then again, this could be a case of picking the right vague terminology that's almost always correct in a general sense right?

A lot of logotherapy seems like straight up common sense stuff, and sometimes logical psychology trickery.

Take his story of the man who's wife died and now he's so depressed about it. Frankl was like "well what if you died instead, how would your wife feel?", and the man says "well she'd feel terrible and depressed", and frankl says "well now she won't have to feel terrible and depressed because she died first"
LOL i mean hey whatever works right, the man felt better.

I do agree with one major point Frankl made regarding giving up. If you truly give up, its all over.
In the concentration camps, those individuals who completely gave up, their immune system became weaker and they succumbed to camp conditions and died.
As long as you have some goal to shoot for, you can endure the suffering and be better for it.


So yea all in all an interesting read, although personally i'd rather read a straight up day to day autobiography of his concentration camp experiences, versus a condensed version as a plug for his logotherapy follow up.
Supposedly he was in the camps for years, what an interesting story that would be to read in its entirety.
 
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Tommo

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
Jan 21, 2018
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Perth Australia
I cannot write about this as Viktr said it better in every sentence.
Here are a few.
:I bet you got a lot of money out of people
As it happens I did most of my work for no money at all in clinics
The questioner then assaulted him physically.

Of all of you,he is the only one who must fear the next selection so don't worry.

This tiny book is so full of paragraphs that make you wonder what the F*ck went on and could it happen again if people do not get unscripted
 

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