Man’s search for meaning (in murdering): what I learned from reading a 500 page book about nazi doctors

 

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There’s a short book about finding meaning through suffering that many of you have read. It’s called Man’s Search for Meaning. It resonates with nearly everyone who reads it because Frankl writes directly into the human condition – the condition of suffering. It takes only 154 pages for Viktor Frankl to teach us how to transcend the unavoidable suffering that comes with being alive. 

There are many books about the survivors of atrocities, but only a few about the perpetrators. ‘The Nazi Doctors’ by Robert Jay Lifton is a book about the perpetrators of medical killing in the name of the nazi ideology. It’s a book about how healers became murderers.

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Biocracy. Cleansing. Sterilization. Hygienic Institute. These were the words that were used as sleight of hand maneuvers not to cover up the killings, but to make sure that everyone involved felt as if they were still healing, not murdering. The word healing began to take on a twisted irony. The killings were done in the name of “healing” the “national body” of the Aryan race. And who’s supposed to be responsible for all this “healing”? Doctors. Many of these doctors could find meaning in their murdering by convincing themselves that their actions were in the name of something greater than themselves – for the führer.

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Even the most useful psychological functions can be used by people with malicious intent.

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