Writer's Connection, SM
a publication of The Virtual Writing
"The Creative Process of Writing
is a Liberating and Therapeutic Experience"
In This Issue:
2. Publisher's Note
3. Viktor's Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning
4. Helpful Hints
The Writer's Connection explores the creative process
of writing and the interplay between thoughts, feelings,
and actions. We are an interactive community of authors
and readers who share ideas to enhance our knowledge,
skills, and experiences in writing fiction in any genre,
but our emphasis remains mystery and suspense thrillers.
Published monthly, the Newsletter offers writing tips
for authors, coaching suggestions, editing, and marketing
Topics are presented from the perspective of Keith Barton
and represent only his ideas on producing your first manuscript,
and are provided to the general public. Because we are
an interactive community of writers, other viewpoints
are welcomed and may be printed in future monthly newsletters
with permission from Keith Barton.
2. Publisher's Note
Dear Writer's Connection Subscriber,
This month's newsletter features: Viktor's Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning
3. Viktor's Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning
Frankl's book was originally published in 1952, first written in 1939 before his
internment at Auschwitz during WW II. I read this book over thirty-five years ago
during graduate school and it has more meaning for me today than ever. Frankl came
from an aristocratic Austrian family; his father was a prominent attorney in Vienna,
Austria. This short narrative is in two parts: Part One describes Frankl's experience
in four different concentration camps in Poland between 1943 and his release in April,
1945, two weeks before Hitler killed himself. His first-hand accounts of the constant,
daily suffering has been recorded by other writers (Bonhoffer and Weiss) but without a
theoretical framework to understand why some people survived while others languished
away in their own excrement accepting death freely or by committing suicide.
Frankl talked about the numbness that ensues after seeing so much death and dying around
oneself. Despite survival instincts, there were days when Frankl wanted to die. He was
lucky enough to be assigned a work detail outside the camp. Five a.m. he and his cohorts
were repairing railroad ties for the German rail system to move supplies. In winter, the
bitter cold induced frostbite. Men were without shoes, food was scarce, and dysentery
prevalent. If one were fortunate enough to be confined to sick bay for two days with
broth and water, he was harangued by the SS troops who would put them on a tough detail
when they were discharged. Frankl survived his suffering by focusing on his family and
research. He would jot down notes and stuff them in his pockets. Other times he would
formulate long treatises in his head.
Frankl was of the opinion that Freud and Adler were incorrect in what motivates us to
survive. If one subscribed to Freud the absence of having one's daily desires of food and
sex met, would most assuredly lead to a quick death. Adler's theory of man's need for
achievement would also create hopelessness and suicide. Frankl believed that man's
greatest task was to find meaning in his life in one or all of three ways: 1) through one's
vocation; 2) a love relationship; and 3) suffering. Frankl posited that IF one were to suffer,
he could either choose to submit to hopelessness and die, or find meaning in his suffering and
increase his chances of living.
Frankl calculated that he had less than a 10% chance of
remaining alive during his three years in four different concentration camps, but his insatiable
desire to place meaning in his suffering (to fulfill and contribute to his life's work and
helping others) allowed Frankl to survive this harrowing degradation. Frankl's work continues
to this day under his moniker, Logotherapy, which has relevance to cancer and AIDS patients,
chronically ill, and the very old who find themselves in nursing homes today.
Frankl first published his Auschwitz death camp experience in German in 1946 and the first
English translation was in 1959, called Man's Search for Meaning. His book has sold more than
12 million copies in 24 languages and the Congress/Book of the Month Club found his book to be
one of the ten most influential books in America. Frankl was always fond of philosophy,
experimental psychology (Wundt's experiments), and psychoanalysis. From 1930 to 1937 he
worked as a psychiatrist in Vienna, Austria and later was the chief of neurology at Rothschild
Hospital, the only Jewish hospital in Vienna.
In 1942 Frankl and his family were arrested and placed
in Hitler's concentration camps where his own imprisonment served as the impetus for his book.
During his darkest hours, not knowing if he would live another day, he drew inspiration from his
inborn optimism, humor, psychological detachment, solitude, inner freedom and his resolve not to
give up. His view of life was different from Freud--i.e. one has to eschew pleasure to find someone
other than oneself--that man is ultimately self-determining.
After his liberation in 1945, Frankl
almost died from typhus; he later learned that his pregnant wife, brother, and parents all died
in the concentration camps. Frankl later married Eleanore Schwindt who was a nurse and a Catholic.
Frankl avoided direct reference to his personal religious beliefs in his writings, but believed
in a power outside oneself to give meaning to our lives. He continued to write more than thirty
books and lectures on four continents until is death in 1997 (from the Afterword by William J.
- Robert McGee's Search for Significance and Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life
certainly owe their formulations to Frankl's earlier work, even though Frankl would disavow that
his book is not about spirituality. Can one have meaning without God?
- Many of Frankl's ideas are captured today by the "positive psychology" movement that argues
about resilience and hardiness to overcome the negative events in our lives. Where else do you
see Frankl's influence on spirituality, philosophy, and psychology?
- Frankl was fond of saying that a logotherapist is like an eye specialist who broadens the
patient's field of vision so that the whole meaning becomes conscious and visible rather than
that of a painter who pictures the world as he sees it. Do you agree or disagree and why?
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About Keith Barton, Ph.D.
Dr. Barton received his Ph.D. in 1972 from the University
of Texas at Austin and has been a practicing therapist
for over thirty years. He is currently enrolled in MentorCoach
and is accepting new clients.
He has been an adjunct professor at the University of
South Carolina, consultant to Fortune 500 companies in
executive development, founded and managed Texas Community
Living Ventures, Inc., in 1986 for providing group home
services to persons with mental retardation. Keith founded
and has been running a clinical practice in Northwest
Houston since 1990.
He writes part-time with the goal of completing one novel
a year. His desire to coach others derives from his passionate
interest in helping others become attuned to their creative
powers of storytelling.
Dr. Barton has training in coaching, cognitive and family
therapy and health psychology. He has published articles,
made presentations and conducted workshops about:
Anxiety and achievement
The relationship between psychology and spirituality
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