Author of Book: Viktor E. Frankl
Date Read: November 1, 2023

Book Report

Why I read this book:
I purchased this book because Michael Santos read some of Frankl’s books while he was in prison. He
seemed to grasp a deeper understanding of phycology and the human mindset, perceptibly from a man
who encountered a similar circumstance of dehumanizing and debilitating imprisonment. I thought that
this book, Man’s Search for Meaning, would help me find some understanding that I could use to define
my life’s purposeful meaning. I’ve always wondered if I decided to take a different path in life, would my
life have had another meaning or purpose. I had an opportunity to go two different paths when I was 19
years old; whether to go into the military or proceed directly to a office environment. I chose the latter
(or should I say fate chose for me), however after seeing my brother-in-law’s life as a retired marine, I
am a bit envious about his pension and the life he’s built. My life has never been about money, but
about passion in the things that I do or enjoy that brings life’s pleasures. Unfortunately, this thought has
haunted me throughout my life. I struggled for many years trying to make ends meet, trying to live up to
expectations, never fulfilling my dreams. I continually reflect on my life and wonder “What If”…

What I learned from reading this book:
This book took me by surprise. It started out with Viktor Frankl’s personal experience in the worst Nazi
concentration camp ever devised by man, Auschwitz. The author describes, in fairly great detail, the
conditions of his environment and other camps he attended, the horrors of the treatment, the gas
chambers, trains filled with prisoners without any space between them, and many more atrocities. It
seems to be a miracle that anyone survived this cruelty, but somehow Viktor kept his dignity and poise
throughout this whole experience. He looked at this experience as an opportunity to learn and adapt
under inconceivable conditions that would destroy any human spirit of the will to live.
He goes on to explain the three phases of an inmates mental reactions to confinement.

  1. The period following his admission to the camp
  2. The period after he is well entrenched in the camp routine
  3. The period following his release and liberation

I believe that I too will go through these same mental reactions when I surrender November 7 th 2023.
Frankl goes on to say that the newly arrived prisoner (in the concentration camp) experienced the
tortures of other most painful emotions, all of which he tried to deaden during admission to camp.

  1. A boundless longing for his home and family
  2. Disgust with all the ugliness which surrounded him

The second phase The period after he is well entrenched in the camp routine) main symptom was
apathy which was a necessary mechanism of self-defense. The single most important task was
preserving one’s own life or the life of a fellow inmate. I’m probably not going to experience apathy
since I will be in a minimum security facility, which is not a life or death situation. Frankl goes on to say
that the lack of having essential life sustaining or comfortable surroundings led the prisoner to seek wish-fulfillment in dreams. I have, at times, had nightmares where I’m getting attacked and or in some
sort of physical altercation, or witnessed another person in some sort of trouble and start yelling or
screaming in bed. My wife would start to shake me to wake me up from those nightmares and then I
would have difficulty falling back to sleep. I haven’t had any deep sleep or nightmares in quite some
time. It will be interesting if I have any fearful dreams or deliria while in prison. I’m sure that the other
prisoners will not be pleased with me if I start shouting or yelling in my sleep in the middle of the night.
The prisoner’s at Auschwitz dreamed about food and their favorite dishes whenever they had a spare
moment. I think that food will not be an issue, but I’m not sure that I’ll have much of an appetite and
probably need to lose some weight anyway.

In the concentration camp, there was also something referred to as “cultural hibernation”. The
two exceptions were politics and religion. Apparently politics were talked about everywhere in the
camp. I suspect the same things will happen in this camp where I’ll be housed. People will want to know
my story and have their own opinions on how the government is handling the J6er’s, and many more
topics of the political arena. They will probably inquire about my ideals and beliefs concerning what is
happening in the world today, however they probably won’t get a whole lot from me as I’ve detached
myself from most, if not all, news outlets and media. Every once in a while I get information from other
sources, so I’m not blind to what’s happening, but I can only take small bits of information on a weekly

Frankl states that it was possible for inmates to have a deepening for spirituality. Prisoners were
able to retreat from their terrible surroundings to a life of inner riches and spiritual freedom. My
spiritual belief is that God has given me an assignment and it’s his will that I must follow. I need to be
attentive to his voice and obey his commands while continuing to bring everything to him in prayer. As
our pastor says, Pray, Listen, Obey. I will thankfully have my bible with me at surrender, and I’ve made
up a devotional sheet of scripture that I’ll put on my locker in prison to remind me that God is always
with me no matter the situation. I plan on going deeper in my spiritual experience and also to do God’s
will whatever that may mean. Paul wrote 13 books in the new testament, most of them behind bars. I
too will try and write and bring a living Jesus to a dying world.

The next subject that Frankl talks about is the Truth – “that love is the ultimate and the highest
goal to which man can aspire. Salvation of man is through love and in love.” For me, being in love is
something that my life lacks. It’s difficult to be in love with someone who will not make love to you. I’ve
given up on physical love and tried to find alternative means to love, but I’m not living a loving
existence. I’ve come to somewhat resent my wife for what she’s done to our relationship. I’m not sure
what to do anymore or how much more I can endure. I cannot achieve fulfillment of this most basic
Maslownian hierarchy of love and belonging, and the need to be in an intimate relationship. Without
physical contact, I will cease to achieve a meaningful existence. I have suffered through this period in
my life, and maybe this is the turning point of our relationship. Alternatively, my suffering in this area of
my life has brought me closer to my creator. I no longer yearn for beautiful women and find it difficult to
even think of sex. Men are built on sex, but because I no longer have access to it, I’ve removed it from
my psyche and tried to redirect my thoughts on Jesus. I feel mentally tormented and I know that Jesus
can give me the peace I need to overcome any urges. Unfortunately, I believe that this has started to
affect me physically. My enlarged prostate and the fluid in my left testicle may be a direct result of not
having a physical relationship. Normally, sex is a mode of expression for love and expressing the
experience of that ultimate togetherness which defines love. According to Frankl, love finds it’s deepest meaning in a person’s spiritual being, his inner self. I cannot find that feeling of love and my inner self
has suffered greatly.

The prisoner in the concentration camp also experienced the beauty of art and nature as never
before. These prisoners were carried away by nature’s beauty which they have missed for so long. I too
am a big fan of nature. I’m hoping that I will experience the natural beauty of the Georga seasons upon
arrival to Jesup GA. I don’t know if I’ll have any type of view, but I’m sure that there must be some trees
that will turn color in the fall and there will hopefully be some snow. I grew up in upstate New York and
lived in New England for 10 plus years. I sometimes miss the change of the seasons, that feeling you get
when fall is near, that first snowstorm, the first thaw and the longing for spring and it’s blossoms and
beauty, and then finally summer. For the last 21 plus years, I’ve lived in southern California and now in
Florida where seasons don’t change and the weather is usually fairly pleasant. California was a beautiful
state, but lacked rainfall (in the south). You could always rely on the weather to be sunny and warm with
little to no humidity. You could always make plans ahead of time for any outdoor activity and be fairly
assured things would be fine. Florida is basically the same, except for the summer – hurricane season
and rainy season. For 4 to 5 months out of the year, it’s very hot and humid, but the winters are

Frankl states that humor was another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation. He
states that humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an
ability to rise above any situation, even for a few seconds. After reading this, I’ve tried to get back to the
old me, and genuinely become my old self, being funny and carefree. I feel so much better when I can
look at situations and make lite of those things that either make people uncomfortable or just find
humor in awkward situations. Life’s too short to be so serious about everything. I believe that humor,
when presented tastefully and tactfully, can bring an uplifting moment and release a joyous feeling to
everyone participating in the conversation.

Frankl also talks about the prisoner’s need to get into solitude, to be alone with one’s thoughts
when in an enforced environment. Currently, I enjoy my solitude and ability to be alone with my
thoughts, however; now that I’m retired, I have too much time to think. Boredom sets in and I start to
drift off into sleep. I hope to find comradery in prison and make some lifelong friends. I have some good
friends, but no longer have a best friend. Friendships, in general, have been difficult for me to obtain. I
believe that this is due to the many relocations that I’ve had throughout the years. I’ve had some good
relationships, and also some bad ones, mostly with desperate and unstable women who wanted to get
married and start a family before their biological clock expired. Most of my relationships have ended in
disappointment or betrayal. I now distrust most humans and put my trust only in God. Unfortunately
this carries its own burden and creates a barrier between me and anyone who tries to get too close to
me. It’s hard to let your guard down when time and time again, distrust and disloyalty become
apparent. The biggest example of distrust and betrayal came from my neighbor across the street from
me in Westminster, CA. For years I new this guy and always talked to him and even hung out with him
on occasion. When I came home after January 6 th , he began to act differently towards me. I had several
flags, including the US flag turned upside down for distress, and I started to get anonymous nasty letters
in the mail from “your neighbors”. I had a garage sale, and almost every day this guy was there. Once I
caught him taking a picture of a coke canister and I asked him if he wanted to purchase this canister. He stated that he just wanted the picture to show his wife. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, however;
after my arrest and the discovery of thousands of documents and pictures presented to my lawyers, I
came across the FBI notes that stated this guy TY had provided information on my whereabouts. I
received pictures that he took of me at my garage sale, and the one particular picture of the coke
canister he was holding while taking my picture. I was friends with this guy and he betrayed me bigtime.

Frankl discusses the issues of other experiences in prison camp, in particular, human liberty and
spiritual freedom. He expresses that the experiences of camp life show that man does have a choice of
action. He states that man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independent mind, even in
such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress. Prisoners displayed sufficient proof that
everything can be taken from a man but one thing: to choose one’s attitude; to choose one’s own way.
Frankl points out that there were always choices to make, decisions which determined whether you
would or would not become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become
molded into the form of the typical inmate. I would expound on that thought process to say that as
Americans who protested the election, they chose to do something that could change their
circumstance by not renouncing their freedoms and dignity to become a pawn in this administration.
They believed in the freedom that their vote counted and that our government was not being truthful.
America’s dignity was at stake and patriots made a decision, a choice, to protect our freedoms in this
country by supporting our president, or have the “Soul of the Nation” ripped from them (Biden’s
campaign slogan if you were paying attention). This is not to say that I condone my actions, I was wrong
in getting into a physical confrontation with the capitol police. I had no plan or knew what I was getting
into, but I let the crowd dictate my actions. The overall attempt to show our displeasure with the
government should have been peaceful, and for the most part, started out peaceful. My experience was
that the capitol police provoked the riots. I’ve seen video’s of capitol police shooting canisters of tear
gas and flash bangs into a crowd that is simply standing in front of them. Veterans, parents with
children, the elderly with canes and walkers could not possibly be any threat to these thugs. Yet here we
are today, the new administration in place that has crippled the economy, brought us to the brink of
world war III, and continues to have two completely separate justice systems, one for conservatives and
one for the leftists and democrats. All you have to do is look at what they are doing to Donald Trump
these days, and what they are not doing to the Biden cartel. I could probably fill up this entire book
report on politics, but that is not the task of this report. I will continue…

Frankl says that if there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. He
states that without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete. To add a deeper meaning to
life, even under the most difficult circumstances, gives man ample opportunity to take up his cross and
accept his fate. Here man can either make use of or forgo opportunities of attaining the moral values
that difficult situations may afford. This decides whether he is worthy of his sufferings or not. He goes
on to say that man’s inner strength may raise him above his outward fate and give him a chance of
achieving something through his own suffering. Difficult external situations gives man the opportunity to
grow spiritually, beyond himself. If a person did not take their life seriously and despised it as something
of no consequence, therefore they chose to close their eyes and live in the past. Life for these people
became meaningless. I would like to accept this offering of suffering and struggle into a victory, turning
my life into an inner triumph. If I choose to believe that there is no future, then I’m doomed, for I have
lost my belief in the future as well as my spiritual beliefs. What I really need is a fundamental change of
attitude toward life for it doesn’t matter what I expect from life, but rather what life expects from me. I must take the right action in the right conduct and take responsibility to find the right answer to its
problems fulfilling my tasks that are set for me as an individual. My unique opportunity lies in the way in
which I bear my burden. I must have the courage to suffer, face up to the full amount of suffering while
keeping my moments of weakness to a minimum. Life is still expecting something from me; something
in the future. Nietzsche states that which does not kill us, makes us stronger. What I have experienced,
no power on earth can take it away from me. I will continue to go through this struggle with my dignity
and sanity intact, but I also will take on the responsibility to improve myself and fulfill the dreams that
I’ve lost site of. This situation will either define me or I will define this situation and make my life more

The third stage of a prisoner’s mental reactions per Frankl is the psychology of the prisoner after
his liberation. Frankl states that there are two “races” of men in this world, that of a decent man and
that of an indecent man, and they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists of a “pure
race” and sometimes you find a decent fellow among them. I don’t know what I’ll experience in prison. I
have only visions of unpleasantness, darkness, and hopelessness among those whom I’ve yet to know.
What I do know is that God has placed me there and I have a mission yet to be explained or identified. I
just know that somehow God will show his goodness and mercy to those who worship him in reverence
and fear his power. I have a feeling that somewhere in that prison, there is someone I’m supposed to
meet. I’m either going bring him to the lord or maybe he has something to tell me, either way there is
someone I must meet or save. Something that Frankl says is “I called to the Lord from my narrow prison
and He answered me in the freedom of space.” “I know that on that day, in that hour, my new life
started. Step by step I progressed, until I again became a human being.”

I must be careful not to allow bitterness and disillusionment damage my character when I return
to my former life. Bitterness about the government, the judge, the prosecutor, the neighbor who turned
me in, and the list goes on. This bitterness will surely bring me into a very dark place, void of remorse
and open opportunities for pure evil to envelop my sole. I hope that this experience opens my spiritual
awareness and brings me closer to the heavenly things that will take me to a higher understanding of
the most powerful being in the universe. For after all I have suffered, there is hope that I will experience
a wonderful feeling that I will no longer fear anything more – except God.

As stated in my previous book report, Logotherapy focuses on the future and on the meaning
that I, the revived man, fulfill that future. I still shall live, and even die, for the sake of my ideals and
values. I am not willing to live merely for the sake of my “defense mechanisms”, or for the sake of my
“reaction formations”. I will continue to look to achieve a significance which will satisfy my own will to

Frankl states that mental health is based on a certain degree of tension, the tension between
what one has already achieved and what one still ought to accomplish. This is a difficult paradigm for me
as there isn’t much tension between what is and what should be, because I don’t know what I expect
from the future, or what the future expects of me. I’ve lived my life, maybe not to the fullest, but I have
a vast history of things that I’ve achieved over my lifetime. The difficulty in being my age is how to not
only overcome obstacles and challenges, but to redefine the next phase of my meaning.

Apparently there is something called the “Existential Vacuum”. The “Existential Vacuum”
consists of conformism or totalitarianism. According to Frankl, 60% of American students this vacuum
creates a state of boredom. Sometimes that frustrated will to meaning is vicariously compensated for by a will to power (i.e. money), or the will to pleasure (sexual compensation). What seems to matter is not
a meaning of life, but rather a specific meaning of a person’s life at a point in time. Each person is
questioned by life itself, and the person can only answer to his/her life by being responsible for their
human existence.
The meaning of life always changes, but it never ceases to be. Using Logotherapy, we can
discover this meaning in three ways:

  1. Creating a work of doing a deed
  2. Experiencing something or encountering someone
  3. By the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.

The first definition needs no further explanation. The second can be accomplished by nature, culture, or
another human being through loving the person. The third subject, suffering, may find meaning in life
even when confronted with a hopeless situation. Suffering can, according to Frankl, transform a
personal tragedy into a triumph and human achievement. I am now challenged to change myself by
finding a meaning to my suffering, possibly as a meaning of sacrifice. I can no longer just exist and hope
to find meaning, but must determine what I’ll become after this suffering and look for ways to exist in
the next moment. I am now challenged to change myself into the human being that doesn’t conform or
do things that others want me to do, but design a path of will to become more of what God designed me
to be and achieve a meaningful life.

Why I will be successful after reading this book:
This book really exposed several weaknesses in my being. I seem to be aimlessly walking
through this life without real purposeful meaning. There are some basic elements missing from my life
and I need to make changes to those area’s that no longer make sense. I can no longer feel frustrated
over life’s disappointments and mistakes. I need to be aware of what affects my mental stability and
confront issues that are hidden deep inside my being by accepting responsibility for my actions.
Even though Frankl talks about the horrors of a concentration camp in his book, I feel that they
are probably not too far off of what I should expect once I’m on the inside of those walls. I suspect that
through my continued daily journals, I will be able to speak more on the prisoner’s mental state,
applying what I’ve learned from this book. I feel compassionate about writing now, however; if I cannot
have access to a computer or some word processor, I will fail to write down my thoughts and feelings on
a consistent basis. I can type about as fast as I can think, and with the help of spell check, will continue
to express my thoughts and feelings. If I have to hand-write book reports and daily journals, I will lose
that creativity and expression I’m accustom to and fail in my endeavor.
There are a lot of unknowns that should create anxiety and uncertainty in the upcoming days,
two days to be exact, but I have not started to panic or be afraid of this opportunity to become a better
person. I’ve yet discovered my real purpose and meaning in this life, however; I will continue to seek a
greater power. I think that I will meet like minded people in prison and also connect on a whole
different level of friendship and companionship which I desperately seek; a purposeful meaning.