I was at a particularly dark place in my life many years ago and sought therapy.
My psychologist handed me this book by Viktor Frankl. I had never heard of it but, as I later discovered, it is an all-time best seller.
Frankl was a disciple of Sigmund Freud’s as the science and discipline of psychiatry and psychology were just beginning at the turn of the 20th century.
The prevailing concept at the time was called “mental health” which was defined as “a lack of conflict” in one’s life and soul. Frankl had embraced the teaching he had been under. Then he was arrested by the Nazis and taken to Auschwitz. Frankl observed nothing but conflict and yet saw people surviving and not committing suicide in the most heinous circumstance a human could find themselves in. In the concentration camps one committed “suicide” by simply not getting out of bed. if you didn’t get up, you would be taken out and shot.
However, Frankl noted that EVERYONE who did get out of bed, ALL had the same thing in common. They were living for something greater than themselves. Most just wanted to stay alive because they desired to know what had happened to their loved ones who they had been separated from. But Frankl KNEW his family was dead. In his case, Frankl’s “One Thing” (my term) was that he was driven to write this book and articulate to the world not mental health but “Mental Hygiene”.
Frankl discovered that the human soul is capable of enduring through the worst kind of suffering but also be totally consumed by relatively the smallest amount. And “Mental Hygiene” (or what Paul the Apostle termed “the cleansing of the soul, the renewing of the mind”) is the key.
I cannot recommend this book more highly to you. It changed my life forever. Frankl’s unique account of his experience in the Holocaust and his theory that resulted will change yours, too. <3