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Yes To Life In Spite of Everything
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Learn the key ideas of the book by Viktor E. Frankl

Yes To Life In Spite of Everything

How Logotherapy can help the psychological condition of a prisoner

Yes To Life: In Spite of Everything is a biographical tale. Frankl, having survived life in wartime concentration camps, tells the story of the prisoner’s psychological state. Stripped of everything they have, the prisoners experience slow but progressive depersonalization. They suffer horrifically both internally and externally and life in the camp becomes a real struggle for survival. Yet according to Frankl, who was a practicing psychologist before he was taken prisoner, even in the most brutal conditions, man can save himself, rediscovering the very meaning of life which lies within, uniting past and future. Light also hides in the dark and finding that light and projecting it onto the future can allow us to find the path to salvation. Every life has a meaning and it must be discovered. If Logotherapy helps to identify the source of our life’s meaning, then it is up to man to cultivate that meaning and live according to his purpose.

Yes To Life In Spite of Everything
Read in 18 min.
Listen in 22 min.

A number tattooed on one arm, 119.104, the terrible experience in a Nazi camp and the discovery of his mission

The concentration camps in Germany represent a shameful plague of the last century. No man, woman or child at the time of getting on those trains bound for the concentration camps, could have imagined the horror that they would see and experience. What is striking, each time we think of it, is the perfect architecture and workings of a precise plan of destruction and annihilation. Destined to be just numbers on a list, with a number tattooed on their arms like cattle, those prisoners went through what could only be described as the most tragic experience a man can endure. A meaningless experience, full of suffering.

Victor Frankl, who was already a psychologist, admired by Sigmund Freud at the time, was deported along with his family in 1942. Upon his arrival at the camp he was branded with his number 119.104.

Unlike many of his friends that did not make it, Frankl managed to save himself by using his extensive knowledge of the human spirit. He managed, in complete confidence, to dispense advice, to basically be the camp psychologist. Towards the end of his stay, he was allowed to work as a medical intern. That terrible experience, during which he was pushed beyond his limits, nevertheless became his field of investigation. Throughout the duration of his imprisonment, Frankl continued to write notes on pieces of paper that he collected here and there, to gather data and to reflect. He concluded that man needs to find his life’s purpose, even in absurd situations, to be able to endure unbearable suffering.

Once he had been freed, Frankl continued to work as a psychiatrist, using Logotherapy to try and help survivors, to help them to see the good in a devastated world.


The key ideas of "Yes To Life In Spite of Everything"

A number tattooed on one arm, 119.104, the terrible experience in a Nazi camp and the discovery of his mission
The trip to Auschwitz, a slow ride towards horror
The organisation of the horror and the inevitable fact of every man for himself
The emotions and the psychological symptoms of those forced to live in a concentration camp
The education of thought and the rediscovery of inner life
Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Kaufering and Turckheim: put yourself in the hands of destiny
The greatest challenge of those who survived was going back to being free
The principles of Logotherapy
Take-home message
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