Sigmund Freud once asserted, “Let one attempt to expose a number of the most diverse people uniformly to hunger. With the increase of the imperative urge of hunger all individual differences will blur, and in their stead will appear the uniform expression of the one unstilled urge.” Thank heaven, Sigmund Freud was spared knowing the concentration camps from the inside. His subjects lay on a couch designed in the plush style of Victorian culture, not in the filth of Auschwitz. There, the ‘individual differences’ didnot ‘blur’ but, on the contrary, people became more different; people unmasked themselves, both the swine and the saints. And today you need no longer hesitate to use the word ‘saints’: think of Father Maximilian Kolbe who was starved and finally murdered by an injection of carbolic acid at Auschwitz and who in 1983 was canonized. You may be prone to blame me for invoking examples that are the exceptions to the rule. Sed omnia praeclara tarndifficilia quam rara sunt (but everything great is just as difficult to realize as it is rare to find) reads the last sentence of the Ethics of Spinoza. You may of course ask whether we really need to refer to ‘saints.’ Wouldn’t it suffice just to refer to decent people? It is true that they form a minority. More than that, they always will remain a minority. And yet I see therein the very challenge to join the minority. For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best.
So, let us be alert — alert in a twofold sense: Since Auschwitz we know what man is capable of. And since Hiroshima we know what is at stake.
stem: viktor e. frankl
perspectief: Dr. Frankl, author-psychiatrist, sometimes asks his patients who suffer from a multitude of torments great and small, ‘Why do you not commit suicide?’ From their answers he can often find the guideline for his psychotherapy: in one life there is love for one’s children to tie to; in another life, a talent to be used; in a third, perhaps only lingering memories worth preserving. To weave these slender threads of a broken life into a firm pattern of meaning and responsibility is the object and challenge of logotherapy, which is Dr. Frankl’s own version of modern existential analysis. In this book, Dr. Frankl explains the experience which led to his discovery of logotherapy. As a longtime prisoner in bestial concentration camps he found himself stripped to naked existence. His father, mother, brother, and his wife died in camps or were sent to the gas ovens, so that, excepting for his sister, his entire family perished in these camps. How could he — every possession lost, every value destroyed,suffering from hunger, cold and brutality, hourly expectingextermination — how could he find life worth preserving? A psychiatrist who personally has faced such extremity is a psychiatrist worth listening to. – Gordon W. Allport
titel: the case for a tragic optimism
bron: man’s search for meaning (1959, 1962, 1984, 1992)
mopw: meerstemmige encyclopedie / freud