Tagged: “finding meaning in suffering”

Dr. Viktor Frankl says that we can find meaning in our suffering.  I think that is really insensitive to those who are oppressed.  It is insensitive to say to the oppressed: “Oh, you are a victim of racism. Rise above it by finding meaning.” What do you think?

Dr. Frankl never meant to imply that we should seek to be oppressed (or ignore the oppression) so that we can find meaning in our suffering.  You seem to be dichotomizing finding meaning and seeking justice, as if we can do only one or the other.  We must remember that Dr. Frankl was in concentration camps during World War II.  He certainly did not imply that this was good for him so that he could find meaning in his suffering.  Instead, we need to right the wrongs of injustice by practicing the moral virtue of justice and, as the same time, find meaning in our suffering.  These two (seeking justice and finding meaning in suffering) are teammates, not opponents.

Editor’s Note: Viktor Emil Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author, and Holocaust survivor. He was the founder of logotherapy, a school of psychotherapy which describes a search for a life meaning as the central human motivational force. Dr. Frankl published 39 books including his best-selling autobiographical Man’s Search for Meaning, based on his experiences in various Nazi concentration camps.
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In your book, Forgiveness Is a Choice, you talk about finding meaning in suffering. You talk about growing beyond yourself. What does this mean?

When people find meaning in suffering they often develop a deeper sense of what it means to be a person.  You may begin to see, for example, that your suffering has shown you that all people suffer, all people are emotionally wounded to one degree or another.  You begin to realize that your suffering is making you a more sensitive person to other people.  In other words, your world expands as you see humanity more deeply.

For additional information, see Finding Meaning in Suffering.

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