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Dear Editor: The late Dr. Viktor Frankl, a former Austrian psychiatrist and a survivor of several Nazi death camps, wrote that the chief problem confronting modern-day society is the meaninglessness felt by so many people of all kinds.
And here is his perhaps unique view of one of the cures of this major societal symptom.
He said that meaning in one's life can be found through suffering. He believed that suffering of various kinds can teach us more about the fundamental significance of life that does not include pain or distress, so that we come to cherish, nurture, and guard the basic dimensions and fruits of normal life more than ever before.
The primary example of the success of this philosophy of existence is, he wrote, the fact that the suicide rate among inmates of the German concentration camps, in which people were subject to illimitable cruelty and oppression, was less than that among people who were millionaires, at least up until the year 1980.
Interested persons can read more about this highly unexpected revelation — and well as other related contentions and facts put forth by Dr. Frankl — in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning.”
In this provocative and readable volume, he discusses the little known psychotherapeutic methods of logotherapy.
I first read this book in 1985 but I believe that it may still be in print. These ground-breaking viewpoints of the human condition deserve our continuing attention.
Lloyd Bonnell, Corner Brook