Viktor Frankl and “Why” We Live
Viktor Frankl was a Viennese psychiatrist who survived multiple concentration camps during World War II and is the founder of logotherapy. Logotherapy is the belief that finding meaning in your life is your greatest driving force. Having survived in the concentration camps, he experienced some of the absolute worst that humanity has to offer. What he observed was that individuals who remained strong knew “why” they were living. He believed that if an individual knows “why” they do something that they can overcome any “how.” The question in the concentration camps for them was not “how do I get through this?” The question was “Why am I going to get through this?”
Many of the Holocaust survivors would end up in pathological states after their release. Much of this was attributed to the fact that the prisoners discovered their “why” was destroyed. They survived the concentration camp because they wanted to see their family again, only to find out that they had been killed. They survived the concentration camp because they wanted to get back to their community, only to find it burned down to the ground. Once they lost their object of meaning, they lost everything.
Fortunately, the vast majority of us will never have to experience something as horrible as the Holocaust. But just because our existence isn’t threatened doesn’t mean our living experience isn’t threatened. We can survive life without ever living. This is something we all want to avoid. We don’t want to go to a job that we hate every day just so we can get home, watch TV, get fat, and maybe even have sex. We have to strive for something more.
Last week, I wrote about the importance of goals. If your goals are big enough and your drive to achieve them is strong enough, then you will overcome anything that gets in your path.
If you want to read more about logotherapy or about personal experiences in a concentration camp, I suggest going to the man himself. Below, I attached an Amazon link for Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. I do receive a percentage of sales through this link. The price remains the same.