Frankl also concludes that there are only two races of men, decent men and indecent. No society is free of either of them, and thus there were "decent" Nazi guards and "indecent" prisoners, most notably the kapo who would torture and abuse their fellow prisoners for personal gain.
His concluding passage in Part One describes the psychological reaction of the inmates to their liberation, which he separates into three stages. The first is depersonalization—a period of readjustment, in which a prisoner gradually returns to the world. Initially, the liberated prisoners are so numb that they are unable to understand what freedom means, or to emotionally respond to it. Part of them believes that it is an illusion or a dream that will be taken away from them. In their first foray outside their former prison, the prisoners realized that they could not comprehend pleasure. Flowers and the reality of the freedom they had dreamed about for years were all surreal, unable to be grasped in their depersonalization.
The body is the first element to break out of this stage, responding by voracious eating and sleeping. Only after the partial replenishing of the body is the mind finally able to respond, as “feeling suddenly broke through the strange fetters which had restrained it” (111).
This begins the second stage, in which there is a danger of deformation. As the intense pressure on the mind is released, mental health can be endangered. Frankl uses the analogy of a diver suddenly released from his pressure chamber. He recounts the story of a decent friend who became immediately obsessed with dispensing the same violence in judgment of his abusers that they had inflicted on him.
Upon returning home, the prisoners had to struggle with two fundamental experiences which could also damage their mental health: bitterness and disillusionment. The last stage is bitterness at the lack of responsiveness of the world outside—a “superficiality and lack of feeling...so disgusting that one finally felt like creeping into a hole and neither hearing nor seeing human beings any more” (113). Worse was disillusionment, which was the discovery that suffering does not end, that the longed-for happiness will not come. This was the experience of those who – like Frankl – returned home to discover that no one awaited them. The hope that had sustained them throughout their time in the concentration camp was now gone. Frankl cites this experience as the most difficult to overcome.As time passed, however, the prisoner's experience in a concentration camp finally became nothing but a remembered nightmare. What is more, he knows that he has nothing left to fear any more, "except his God".
What about those who have no meaning for themselves, who find life a terrible experience they wish to end, bringing horror to those around them? We can look at a couple of kids, boys from Colorado, as examples:
A personality profile of Eric Harris, based on journal entries and personal communication, suggested behavior patterns consistent with a "malignant narcissism ... (with) pathological narcissism, antisocial features, paranoid traits, and unconstrained aggression". The report notes that such a profile should not be construed as a direct psychiatric diagnosis, which is based on face-to-face interviews, formal psychological testing, and collection of collateral information.
Dylan Klebold's role in the shooting had him surrounded in mystery for some time. In his journal, Klebold wrote about his view that he and Harris were god-like and more highly evolved than every other human being. His secret journal, however, records self-loathing and suicidal intentions. Although both had difficulty controlling their anger, Klebold's anger had led to his being more prone to serious trouble than Harris. Klebold was well known to swear at teachers and fight with his boss at Blackjack Pizza. After their arrest, which both recorded as the most traumatic thing the two had ever experienced, Klebold wrote a letter to Harris, saying how they would have so much fun getting revenge and killing cops, and how his wrath from the January arrest would be god-like. On the day of the massacre, Klebold wore a black T-shirt which had the word "WRATH" printed in red. It was speculated that revenge for the arrest was another possible motive for the attack, and that the pair planned on having a massive gun battle with police during the shooting. Klebold also wrote that life was no fun without a little death, and that he would like to spend the last moments of his life in nerve-wracking twists of murder and bloodshed. He concluded by saying that he would kill himself afterward in order to leave the world that he hated and go to a better place.
One official report suggested that Harris was a clinical psychopath and Klebold was a depressive. Investigators believe that their mental illnesses may have been the underlying cause for their rampage. This report suggested that all of the reasons the boys gave for the shooting were justifications in order to present themselves as killers with a cause.
Some of the home recorded videos, called "The Basement Tapes", have been withheld from the public by the police. Harris and Klebold reportedly discussed their motives for the attacks in these videos and gave instructions in bomb making. Police cite the reason for withholding these tapes as an effort to prevent them from becoming "call-to-arms" and "how-to" videos that could inspire copycat killers.
How do we cope with it? I'll turn at some point later to Freud for a few lines, not particularly comforting. Till then, life is good enough for the likes of me and my kind.