In his moving autobiographical account of experiences in a Nazi concentrationcamp, he observed how prisoners who lost hope in the future would be subject to mentaland physical decay.
According to Frankl, man’s search for meaning is not a derived projection from more basic instinctual drives or sublimations. Otherwise it would lose its ability to challenge or summon him to live or even die for these values. Unlike Sartre’s axiom that existence precedes essence, Frankl’s existentialism asserts that the meaning of our existence is notinvented by ourselves but rather we discover it as ‘something confronting existence’.
Those who lack a meaning worth living for and find an inner void within their heartsexperience ‘existential vacuum’. This is a widespread phenomenon of the twentiethcentury due to the loss of traditional values and rampant industrialization, manifesting itself in boredom, addiction,
the will to money
, apathy or unbridled sexual libido.
As a Christian, I applaud Frankl’s critique of the determinism prevailing in much of psychoanalysis that reduced man to nothing but a victim of hereditary or environmentalconditions. We share the hope that a ‘rehumanized psychiatry’ would replace the tendencyto treat human minds as machines and focus on mere techniques. Indeed, Frankl’s view of man is biblical in the sense that man has both the potentials of behaving like a swine or asaint. Man’s dignity lies in him being created in the image of God and yet marred by thedepravity of sin. However, Frankl has an overly optimistic view of human freedom in
Viktor E. Frankl,
Man’s Search For Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy
, (Pocket Books: New York,1963), page120.
page 117 – 121
, pages 169 - 170