August 25, 2013

search for meaning

     Victor Frankl, if you have not heard of him, is a rather famous author and physician, most notably for his book Man's Search for Meaning.  He developed a form of psychoanalysis dubbed logotherapy, which arises from the Greek word logos meaning an account or reason.  In his particular context it meant therapy to help find meaning in life.  Once one knows the meaning of their life, everything else becomes secondary, in his mind.  And this book is no dry tome laden heavy with medical terms.  It is his thoughts and conclusions from having survived WWII as a Jew in a concentration camp.  If anyone should know suffering, this man should.  It sounded perfect for my next round of bibliotherapy after Hamlet.
     While not a technically difficult read, it is emotionally difficult, at least for me.  My first impression was, "this man suffered far, far worse than I have and yet did better than me.  Crap, I'm weak."  It's a valid evaluation as this man went on to live a long and fruitful life without becoming horribly bitter or resentful.  He suffered his torments well but as to the how, he merely states:
If someone now asked of us the truth of Dostoevski's statement that flatly defines man as a being who can get used to anything, we would reply, "Yes, a man can get used to anything, but do not ask us how."
     I can relate.  When I've told others of my experiences in med school, they often ask how did I survive that?  I'd shrug my shoulders and say, "I have no idea but I never want to go through that again."  But the again part is here, yet again.  So do I trust that I will make it through yet one more time and at the end, shrug my shoulders and say, "I have no idea how I survived"?

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