The third and final phase, the first two phases are mentioned in post 22b, of the 22 post series comparison of concentration camp prisoners psychological reaction to being freed from prison with a rehab patients’ psychological reaction to being discharged from the hospital.
Before looking at those, let’s ask what possessed the guards to treat their fellow man with such brutality as many prisoners claim to have been treated.
Dr. Frankl, choosing to stick with a basic answer instead confusing the occasion with details suited to an in depth psychological discussion, points out that:
1. Among the guards were those who could be defined in purely clinical terms as sadists.
2. These sadists were always chosen when a severely cruel detachment of guards was needed.
3. Dr. Frankl relates the joy he and his fellow prisoners felt when, to relieve the bitter cold, the prisoners were allowed to huddle around a little stove that was fed with wood scraps. He also tells how there were guards who not only forbid the men to stand around but who enjoyed tipping over the stove, dumping the fire into the snow.
4. Even those guards with no natural tendencies to be cruel and inhumane witnessed so much cruel treatment that their senses had been dulled. Even though they may not inflict it themselves, they made no move to stop others from inflicting unwarranted punishment on the prisoners.
5. Even among the guards were those who took pity on the prisoners. Dr. Frankl tells that in the final prison camp where he was detained, the doctor was himself a prisoner. Only after the war ended was it discovered that the commander of the camp went to great expense purchase medicine, out of his own pocket, for the prisoners.
6. In this same camp, the warden, himself a prisoner, beat his fellow prisoners harder than any of the guards.
Obviously it is impossible to either condemn or consider meritorious a person merely because of the group to which they belong. Compassion or downright cruelty and meanness can be found in any group. About all that can be said is: some are angels and some are devils.
The same can be said concerning any topic that is man’s free will to choose. Why is it that some like scrambled eggs while others like them sunny side up? Why do some choose rain while others like it sunny? Why do some with modest incomes dance through life with a positive Attitude while some with plenty of money, possessions and free time take their own lives?
Who can answer any of these? All that’s for sure is: life is easier when we keep our attitudes positive. Since positive Attitudes are easier to maintain when we’re around positive people, let’s make it a habit to keep ourselves out of concentration camps.
Now back to considering phase three, a prisoner’s psychological reaction to his liberation and a trauma patient’s psychological reaction to his release back into the real world: Oh, our time is up. These two reactions will be the focus of post 19f..