Recently a friend loaned to me a copy of Scars and Stripes as a must-read.  Written by Eugene B. McDaniel, Captain - U.S. Navy, the full title of the book is  Scars and Stripes: The True Story of One Man's Courage Facing Death as a Vietnam POW

The story begins the morning of McDaniel's tragic shootdown near Hanoi.  Before leaving for his 81st combat mission, McDaniel stopped for breakfast at the chow facility on his ship, the Enterprise.  He ate bacon and eggs, but only half of an omelet.  For years to come the memory of that half-eaten omelet would haunt him as he starved in captivity.

McDaniel goes on to describe his capture and then torture in the Hanoi Hilton.  He and the other prisoners found solace in their efforts to communicate with each other despite the risk of punishment from the Vietnamese.

In the beginning chapters of the book, McDaniel's fellow-prisoners question his repeated attempts to establish communication systems with other Americans, as his efforts often result in tortuous interrogations.  McDaniel says, "The fact was I didn't know why or how I could keep pushing myself either, especially when my captors were watching me more closely, knowing I was taking risks with the rules... I had to have some belief in my success, some belief that I could beat the system each day and that, if I stayed with it long enough, I could live one day and be free.  This attitude was to become one of my mainstays in the long months and years ahead, and, though I had not planned it, became a contagion that spread later on in the Zoo and the Zoo Annex where I was to spend most of my time in prison.  Where did that optimism come from?  I knew it was not innate; nobody is really born an optimist.  Considering that optimism does not normally flourish in the conditions of a military prison, where torture is the order of the day, it had to be a quality that had been deeply ingrained over time, the product of childhood and young adulthood.  And yet, looking over those years, I figured I didn't have that much optimism input either, certainly no more than anyone else."

The book is sometimes difficult to read, as extremely tough circumstances prompted McDaniel to consider these tough questions.  At the book's midpoint McDaniel continues to develop his personal philosophy and worldview, and as a reader I anticipate more grueling times ahead for McDaniel and the other heroes of his story. 

So far I agree with the friend who loaned me the book, it is a must-read.  The brutal conditions of the prison are hard to fathom though they reveal hidden, heroic qualities in McDaniel and his companions.  More info. to come on this extraordinary book.








 
 
 
2 good things to say about Victorinox (produces the Swiss Army Knife):

1) Headquartered in Monroe, CT, Victorinox has given knives to deploying military servicemen, each knife labelled "AN EVERYDAY TOOL FOR AN EVERYDAY HERO."

2) This afternoon I broke down cardboard boxes for 3 hours using the small blade on my Swiss Army Knife, and it will still shave hairs.  That is unusual high quality from a factory edge.   
 
 
The writings of Viktor Frankl are key components of The Survival Template.  The following and more can be found at The Official Website of the Viktor Frankl Institute Vienna.

"WHAT IS LOGOTHERAPY AND EXISTENTIAL ANALYSIS?
 

The development of Logotherapy and Existential Analysis dates back to the 1930s. On the basis of Sigmund Freud's Psychoanalysis and Alfred Adler's Individual Psychology the psychiatrist and neurologist Viktor Emil Frankl (1905-1997) laid down the foundations of a new and original approach which he first published in 1938. Logotherapy/Existential Analysis, sometimes called the "Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy", is an internationally acknowledged and empirically based meaning-centered approach to psychotherapy. 

In Logotherapy/Existential Analysis (LTEA) the search for a meaning in life is identified as the primary motivational force in human beings. 

Frankl's approach is based on three philosophical and psychological concepts:
Freedom of Will
Will to Meaning, and
Meaning in Life
 
¦  FREEDOM OF WILL 
According to LTEA humans are not fully subject to conditions but are basically free to decide and capable of taking their stance towards internal (psychological) and external (biological and social) conditions. Freedom is here defined as the space of shaping one's own life within the limits of the given possibilities. This freedom derives from the spiritual dimension of the person, which is understood as the essentially human realm, over and above the dimensions of body and of psyche. As spiritual persons, humans are not just reacting organisms but autonomous beings capable of actively shaping their lives. 

The freedom of the human person plays an important role in psychotherapy, in that it provides clients with room for autonomous action even in the face of somatic or pschological illness. And it just that resource which enables clients, in the context of the techniques of Paradoxical Intention and Dereflection, to cope with their symptoms and to regain control and self-determination.
 
¦  WILL TO MEANING 
Human beings are not only free, but most importantly they are free to something - namely, to achieve goals and puposes. The search for meaning is seen as the primary motivation of humans. When a person cannot realize his or her "Will to Meaning" in their lives they will experience an abysmal sensation of meaninglessness and emptiness. The frustration of the existential need for meaningful goals will give rise to aggression, addiction, depression and suicidality, and it may engender or increase psychosomatic maladies and neurotic disorders. 

Logotherapy/Existential Analysis assists clients in perceiving and removing those factors that hinder them in pursuing meaningful goals in their lives. Clients are sensitized for the perception of meaning potentialities; however, they are not offered specific meanings. Rather, they are guided and assisted in the realization of those meaning possibilities they have detected themselves.
 
¦  MEANING IN LIFE 
LTEA is based on the idea that meaning is an objective reality, as opposed to a mere illusion arising within the perceptional apparatus of the observer. This is in contrast to the so-called "Occupational and Recreational Therapies" which are primarily concerned with diverting the clients' attention from disturbed or disturbing modes of experience. 

According to LTEA humans are called upon, on the grounds of their freedom and responsibility, to bring forth the possible best in themselves and in the world, by perceiving and realizing the meaning of the moment in each and every situation. In this context it must be stressed that these meaning potentials, although objective in nature, are linked to the specific situation and person, and are therefore continually changing. Thus LTEA does not declare or offer some general meaning of life. Rather, clients are aided in achieving the openness and flexibility that will enable them to shape their day-to-day lives in a meaningful manner."

 
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