om2 / notes / May 2024

2024-05-06

⛰️ Man's Search for Meaning - Viktor Fankl

"In psychiatry, there is a certain condition known as delusion of reprieve: the condemned man, immediately before his execution, gets the illusion that he might be reprieved at the very last minute. We too clung to shreds of hope, and believed to the last moment that it would not be so bad."

(after conversing in his mind with his wife, with whom he had been separated upon arriving at the camp) "A thought transfixed me, for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth: that love is the ultimate and highest goal to which Man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: the salvation of Man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when a man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist of enduring his sufferings in the right way, an honorable way, in such a position, Man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment."

"Thus it can be seen that mental health is based on a certain degree of tension: the tension between what one has already achieved and what one still ought to accomplish, or the gap between what one is and what one should become. Such a tension is inherent in the human being, and therefore is indespensible to mental well-being. We should not then be hesitant with challenging Man with a potential meaning for him to fulfill. It is only thus that we evoke his will to meaning from its state of latency. I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium, or as it called in biology, homeostasis. That is: a tensionless state. What Man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential menaing waiting to be fulfilled by him."

"If architects want to strengthen a decrepit arch, they increase the load that is laid upon it, for thereby the parts are joined more firmly together."

"Live as if you were living already for the second time, and as if you had acted for the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now." (!)

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