The first thing that I hadn't contemplated before was the idea that by stripping a person of their possessions, dignity and even hope that all that is left is our essence, our strength which we either can lean on or just forget.
The other interesting thing was how seemingly clinical he was in evaluating the behavior of different people in the camp. For example the Capos, who were prisoners put in the position of authority at the camps, who were often brutal he didn't condemn or judge them, he just described them.
The main takeaway from the book for me was how he described we find meaning in life. In that context he described the 3 ways to find meaning in life:
- By creating a work or doing a deed
- By experiencing something or encountering someone
- By the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering
I LOVED the way he described how unfair it is that someone who is unhappy (depressed) is ashamed in our society because they are unhappy (where the default should be happy) making it almost doubly difficult to get out of it. It reminded me of my brother who passed away who fought demons almost daily and I'm sure was ashamed because he had to, which looking back feels really unfair at a minimum.
The one issue I have with the book is that meaning (in any of the 3 ways as noted above) puts meaning essentially in the future. When any one of the three happen, then you can look back at it and assign meaning to life.
That's a bit troublesome because:
- It makes the present secondary. You have to get somewhere or do something in the future to find meaning.
- It leaves meaning to the past. I feel like you essentially have to look back on the past to evaluate that meaning and when you do, I think there is more than one way to interpret it, so how reliable is that?
Finally, in the Afterword, a writer quoted Frankl as saying "I do not forget a good deed done to me, and I do not carry a grudge for a bad one". That's awesome.