Sigmund Freud believed that if you were to deprive a group of people of food, their individuality would disappear and there would only be a single mass urge left. But Frankl’s experience in the concentration camp proved to be the opposite. Sure, the constant hunger, torture, and squalor desensitized the prisoners, but despite the suffering and base depravities, many still retained their individuality.
Using the power of choice to determine one’s life, forms a common thread throughout personal development literature. But when all liberties are taken away, when all our resources are taken from us, will we still have the freedom to choose? Absolutely. In Frankl’s words:
Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is. After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Ausschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips.
This is ultimately what separates us from the animal kingdom. We can live for our ideals and values. We can hold our head up high despite all the terrors and horrors we face. Most of us may never experience what Victor Frankl went through, however we can use his experience as a guiding light in all the decisions we are faced with. So no matter what may come, no matter how bad it gets, remember Frankl’s experience. Remember that we are always free.
Man’s Search for Meaning is the thirteenth of fifty-two books in Life Training – Online’s series 52 Personal Development Books in 52 Weeks.