The crowning experience of all, ... is the wonderful feeling that, after all he has suffered, there is nothing he need fear any more except his God.
Even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may suggest that the inmates were bound to react in certain ways, in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone. 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. I became acquainted with those martyrs whose behavior in camp, whose suffering and death, bore witness to the fact that the last inner freedom cannot be lost.
A thought transfixed me for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truththat love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire.
Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.
The last of the human freedoms is to choose one's attitudes.
Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality.
Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
Allport, Gordon W., in his preface to Man's Search for Meaning 'Why do you not commit suicide' Dr. Frankl asks his patients. ... in one life there is love for one's children to tie to in another life, a talent to be used in a third, perhaps only lingering memories worth preserving.... As a long-time prisoner in bestial concentration camps he Viktor Frankl found himself stripped to naked existence. His father, mother, brother, and his wife died in camps or were sent to gas ovens, so that, excepting for his sister, his entire family perished in these camps. How could he every possession lost, every value destroyed, suffering from hunger, cold and brutality, hourly expecting extermination how could he find life worth preserving.
Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone's task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.
Just as a small fire is extinguished by the storm whereas a large fire is enhanced by it-likewise a weak faith is weakened by predicament and catastrophes whereas a strong faith is strengthened by them.
What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.
In a last violent protest against the hopelessness of imminent death, I sensed my spirit piercing through the enveloping gloom. I felt it transcend that hopeless, meaningless world, and from somewhere I heard a victorious 'Yes' in answer to my question of the existence of an ultimate purpose. At that moment a light was lit in a distant farmhouse, which stood on the horizon as if painted there, in the midst of the miserable gray of a dawning morning in Bavaria. 'Et lux in tenebris lucet'and the light shineth in the darkness.
There is also purpose in life which is almost barren of both creation and enjoyment and which admits of but one possibility of high moral behavior namely, in man's attitude to his existence, an existence restricted by external forces.
We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways (1) by doing a deed (2) by experiencing a value and (3) by suffering.
Life can be pulled by goals just as surely as it can be pushed by drives.
Those who know how close the connection is between the state of mind of a manhis courage and hope, or lack of themand the state of immunity of his body will understand that the sudden loss of hope and courage can have a deadly effect. The ultimate cause of my friends death was that the expected liberation did not come and he was severely disappointed.
Most men in a concentration camp believed that the real opportunities of life had passed. Yet, in reality, there was an opportunity and a challenge. One could make a victory of those experiences, turning life into an inner triumph, or one could ignore the challenge and simply vegetate, as did a majority of the prisoners.
But my mind clung to my wife's image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look then was more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.
Sigmund Freud - Virginia Satir - Rollo May - Ram Dass - Philip Zimbardo - M. Scott Peck - Kurt Lewin - Howard Gardner - Carl Rogers - B. F. Skinner