For those who lost the sense OF LIFE

An excerpt for those who lost the sense of life from the book by the famous Austrian doctor psychotherapist Viktor Frankl who was at Auschwitz.


Viktor Frankl the famous Austrian psychotherapist, psychologist and philosopher, was at Auschwitz. He is the author of the book “Say Yes to life “, On which he worked in the camp.

A man, who has lost the internal resistance, is quickly destroyed. His excuse is typical: “I have nothing to expect from life.” What can we say? How to object?

The problem is that the question of the sense of life should be put differently. We must learn and explain it to doubters that it’s not what we expect from life, but what life expects from us. Philosophically speaking, we should not ask about the sense of life, but to understand that this question is addressed to us – daily and hourly life asks us questions, and we have to answer them by right actions and correct behavior. Living means to be responsible for the correct resolution of the problems that life sets for each of us.

Different people in different moments of life have different problems and the meaning of life. So, the question of the sense of life can’t have a common response. Life is concrete, as well as its requirements to us. A human destiny also has this particular characteristic: each destiny is unique and different. Each situation is unique and its uniqueness and specificity allow only one answer to the question – the correct one. If the fate gives a human suffering, a problem should be seen in this suffering, which is to be resolved. He must realize the uniqueness of his suffering; no one can deprive him of that suffering, no one can suffer instead of him. However, a unique opportunity of a unique feat cinsists in how the one who is given this destiny, endures his suffering.

For us, in the concentration camp, all this wasn’t an abstract discussion. On the contrary – such thoughts were the only thing that helped us hold our own. To hold on and not to despair, even when there was no chance to survive. For us, the question of the sense of life was far from the widespread naive view that presupposes implementation of a goal. No, it was about life in its full meaning that includes death as well. And as the “sense” we understood not only “the one of life”, but the “sense of suffering and dying”. We fought for it!

Viktor Frankl


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