Pushing Through Suffering…

…entering the Other Sides of Human Meaning. The work of Dr. Edith Eger.

Why did I survive? What is the purpose in my life? What meaning can I get from my suffering? How can I help myself and others endure the hardest parts of life and experience passion and joy?

Dr. Edith Eva Eger wrote her memoir, “The Choice: Embrace the Possible,” 2017 (Scribner).  She survived Auschwitz for one year when taken there at age 16, enduring tremendous suffering, and facing death on a daily basis.  Ultimately she found hope and healing after her experiences and was able to forgive her guards and torturers.

Edith was liberated by U. S. soldiers and rebuilt her life.  She married, emigrated to the U.S., started a family and returned to college to achieve a Ph D. in clinical psychology.  Throughout most of this period, she was subjected to horrible nightmares and on-going fears.  She read Viktor Frankl’s, “Man’s Search for Meaning” and started corresponding with him which led to a decades long friendship as they explored questions about “meaning” together.

Victor Frankl ‘s counsel and friendship helped Edith to find the heart of Frankl’s teaching “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance…” Frankl is known for developing “logotherapy” that the primary motivational force in human beings is finding meaning in life.” {Wikipedia}.

Edith continued with her education and achieved her Ph D in 1978.  Over the many years that Edith practiced and learned from her own emotional introspection and from her patients, she came to know that “our painful experiences aren’t a liability, but a gift. They give us an opportunity to find our unique purpose and strength.” Edith learned to take responsibility for her feelings and stop repressing or avoiding them.

Check out the book!

This remarkable person was able to move beyond victimhood, anger, hate and the desire for revenge.  She transformed herself and was able to teach the power of forgiveness and find freedom from the past.. Edith added meaning to her own life and was able to bring meaning to the lives of others.  She would begin a session with each patient by saying “how can I be of service?” 

In 2019, I heard Dr. Eger speak at Colorado Mountain College (CMC) in Glenwood Springs Co. Her book had been selected for the Common Reader program that is designed to encourage learning conversations among staff, faculty, students and the community.  At age 91, Dr. Eger was still lecturing and helping patients.  Follow this link to learn more about her and experience her lecture in 2019 (https://coloradomtn.edu/community-partnerships/common-reader/)

Dr. Eger was able to free herself from regret and unresolved grief to enjoy a full, rich feast of life. She is a remarkable woman who has pushed through tremendous suffering to finding meaning in life. This is one of the most remarkable books that I have read.

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