Viktor Fankl survived several Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz.
Only one out of twenty-eight so imprisoned survived the ordeal. Frankl closely observed for the common denominator of those few who did survive. He did not find a single physical, physiological, cultural, or religious factor in common.
Instead, he discovered that those with a strong enough purpose (he calls it a meaning) to carry out were the ones who made it. There was no common purpose shared among them all. There was not even a predominant commonality of purpose. Some simply had a purpose to see a loved one again. Some felt work they had begun prior to incarceration was so important they found a way to endure what for others was certain death. Frankl himself fell into the latter category, and it so happened that the work he wanted to complete paralleled the observations he wrote about.
I recommend the book for former SO members who survived long-term oppressive conditions; or those wanting to understand what they were subjected to.
Anyone who survived the Hole and other similar Miscavige tortures will appreciate this short passage demonstrating the sadistic Nazi concentration camp guard menality, and its effects:
Beatings occurred on the slightest provocation, sometimes for no reason at all…
…The most painful part of beatings is the insult which they imply…
…Then he began: “You pig, I have been watching you the whole time! I’ll teach you to work, yet! Wait till you dig dirt with your teeth — you’ll die like an animal! In two days I’ll finish you off! You’ve never done a stroke of work in your life. What were you, swine? A businessman?” I was past caring. But I had to take his threat of killing me seriously, so I straightened up and looked him directly in the eye. “I was a doctor — a specialist.”
“What? A doctor? 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 for the poor.” But, now I had said too much. He threw himself on me and knocked me down, shouting like a madman. I can no longer remember what he shouted.
Frankl even aptly answers the oft-repeated questions we hear about former senior executives, such as “why don’t they arise and revolt?”
The prisoner who had lost faith in the future — his future — was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future, he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and became subject to mental and physical decay.
I recommend the book to anyone feeling he or she lacks a driving, meaningful purpose in life.
Frankl recommends that everyone find their own meaning. It is a life giving process that rises folk above the dwindling sprial of do-nothing boredom, monotony, and the deathly lower harmonic of apathy. Frankl stresses that the meaning-finding process can be assisted, but not directed. Every individual must find for himself or herself that activity which fullfills his or her destiny.
There is nothing in the world, I venture to say, tht would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions as the knowledge there is a meaning in one’s life. There is much wisdom in the words of Nietzsche: ‘He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.‘
I could not help noting the parallels between Frankl’s observations and some fundamental prinicples L Ron Hubbard wrote of. So much so that I would suggest any highly trained auditor could easily come to the conclusion Hubbard had to have read and incorporated Frankl, particularly when one considers Frankl’s book was first published in 1946.