Thursday, February 3, 2011

What Frankl Said

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Challenging the meaning of life is the truest expression of the state of being human.

Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.

I recommend that the Statue of Liberty be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the west coast. 

Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time.

A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the "why" for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any "how.

It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life - daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.

What is to give light must endure burning.

Viktor Emil Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. Frankl was the founder of logotherapy, which is a form of Existential Analysis, the 'Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy'. His best-selling book, 'Man's Search for Meaning' (published under a different title in 1959: 'From Death-Camp to Existentialism', chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate and describes his psychotherapeutic method of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most sordid ones, and thus a reason to continue living. Frankl was one of the key figures in existential therapy and a prominent source of inspiration for humanistic psychologists. 

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