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

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What are Frankl's experiences in concentration camp in Man's Search for Meaning?

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As might be expected, Frankl's experiences in the concentration camp were terrible. He became desensitized to death and corpses and accepted that life was a daily struggle to avoid starvation, beatings, or being sent to a gas chamber. Yet, while he recognized the horror, he also carefully studied his situation. He is very clear that luck was the predominate factor in determining who survived, but he also notes that hope and optimism could increase a person's chances of staying alive. For example, he pinned his hope on a time when he would be reunited with his beloved wife after this was all over and came to the realization that love is the crucially important component in giving our lives meaning and purpose. (He fortunately did not know his wife was already dead.)

While most of life in the lager was a horror, Frankl did focus on the rare moments when the men, even there, could experience a glimpse of beauty and joy, such as the day a fellow prisoner excitedly called them all to witness a stunning sunset. As Frankl states:

Hunger, humiliation, fear and deep anger at injustice are rendered tolerable by closely guarded images of beloved persons, by religion, by a grim sense of humor, and even by glimpses of the healing beauties of nature—a tree or a sunset.

Frankl was faced with the worst possible situation a human could endure and yet tried to make the best of it. From it, he learned to that hope and purpose are at the center of human life.

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