The Key to Resiliency

The Key to Resiliency

Doctor Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, survived 4 Nazi concentration camps and was a neurologist and psychiatrist. He had an early interest in psychotherapy, and by the time he was in medical school, he organized special youth counselling centers to address suicides, which were happening in large numbers after receiving report cards. Frankl was able to recruit many notable psychologists at the time, and in 2 years, they reduced the suicide rate down to 0.

Frankl quickly became a leader in his field and he was the head of a Neurology Department at Rothchild Hospital when he and his family were arrested and taken to Nazi concentration camps in 1942.

Viktor Frankl

During his time in the camps, Frankl was initially forced into labor just like all the other prisoners. But he was able to use his understanding of psychology to understand how best to survive. Frankl used his skills and wisdom to help give his fellow inmates the will to live.

As an expert in preventing suicide, and helping people survive one of history’s most brutal and horrific experiences, Frankl had plenty of supporting material that culminated in his now-famous book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”.

I cannot recommend the book more highly. It was beautifully written and is full of wisdom and insight.

But what I will say, is that Nazis were experts at making their targets feel subhuman. All of their belongings, including their clothes and legal papers, were taken away. They were separated from the families, shaved, and branded with a number. Those who weren’t exterminated immediately were made to work long hours, without enough clothing, protection, or food. They would denigrate and humiliate them and sometimes would force them to do things that were obviously only for the purposes of torture. If they weren’t gassed, they were often worked to death. Some inmates just gave up the will to keep living.

Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning

In these conditions, where everything was taken away, where he and his fellow inmates were dehumanized, he did what he could, when he could, to help remind them of their humanity. And when they lost the will to survive, he invited them to think about what they had that was worth living for. For many, it was their children. Others had a drive to serve the world through their expertise. And for Frankl, he had developed Logotherapy and had written his first book on the subject and he was a newly-wed. He had brought a written manuscript to the camp and was forced to give it up. This book was his baby, and he had to get it out! His work was not done!

What is Logotherapy?

Logotherapy is based on the idea that we as humans need meaning, that is, a life’s purpose to thrive. Logotherapy is the pursuit of search for that meaning.

Frankl had developed the idea, and wrote a paper on the subject in 1925. His work with suicidal patients was based on this idea, and now in 2019, a review article confirms the idea that having meaning helps protect us from suicidal thoughts.

Having meaning in life also help addicts recover from addictions.

In the middle of this pandemic, with the rise of unemployment and isolation, more and more people are turning to addictions and suicide. But those who will thrive and survive do so by finding meaning in their challenges. They recognize that there is, or will be a meaning to their suffering. A meaning that will help them to survive, and thrive and inspire others to do so! We call that post-traumatic growth!

What is that meaning for you? What do you do to give your life meaning? If you need some ideas, read about how your life is already meaningful here, and check out Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” here. If you would like my support, schedule a complimentary consultation here.

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