Man's Search for Meaning Questions and Answers
by Viktor Emil Frankl

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How is it that Frankl survived while so many others did not in Man's Search For Meaning?

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Yong Blackwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Frankl survived for two reasons. The first reason is his ability to hold on to a "why" to live for. He has hope that he will survive the ordeal, but he also wants to ensure the completion of his writings on logotherapy. As Frankl himself notes, a person who knows what they want to live for (even if it seems mundane or unimportant to others) can survive almost any circumstances that would otherwise seem insurmountable.

The second reason for Frankl's survival is his profession. He was a doctor prior to being held in the concentration camp. It should be noted that there was a difference between the concentration camps and the death camps. The concentration camps were brutal, and the inmates generally died from neglect, overwork, or communicable disease. Frankl allowed for a lowered death toll in the work parts of the camp by providing some medical care to the inmates.

Finally, while not one of the two reasons noted above, luck should also be considered important. Frankl was lucky that he had a valuable skill and was both physically healthy and young. Otherwise he might have been consigned to a death camp or worked harder until he died.

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Kimberly Gunderson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Viktor Frankl attributes his ability to survive to one simple thing: Hope. He believes that he was able to find hope even when things seemed insurmountable. Rather than focusing on the horrendous living conditions and atrocities being committed all around him, Frankl focuses on his wife, the work he wishes to complete when he is released, and the most subtle of kindnesses. He finds the human spirit is still alive among the prisoners who have been starved and tortured, and this is enough to keep him going. Frankl found that those prisoners who thought only of their misery and suffering lost their will to live. He focused on teaching others not to expect things from life. Rather, he taught them that life expected things of them, so they needed to focus on what they could give to others and to life itself, no matter how small the gift.

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