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What an Auschwitz survivor taught NHS safeguarding leads about resilience

Updated: Sep 25, 2019

The Psychologist, 9th October 2018


Finding meaning in unbearable situations



On a chilly Autumn day in September 1942, Viktor Frankl [self-caricature, drawn around 1990, above], a Jewish psychiatrist, his wife and his parents, were arrested in Vienna, and transported to a Auschwitz. By 1945 his family, including his wife, had perished. Frankl managed somehow to survive. The following year he wrote one of the most profound books to be written about the holocaust and the human condition, Man's Search for Meaning, about his experiences in the camps.


In the book, Frankl concluded that the overwhelming difference between those who survived the camps and those did not, was the person’s ability to find meaning and purpose in even in the most hopeless circumstances. Frankl wrote "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms – to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."


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