History of the Heimler Method
When Prof. Dr. Eugene Heimler came out of the concentration camps after the World War II, he thought deeply about what had enabled him to survive the camps, where there were overwhelmingly high frustrations and where so many others died. His question was summed up by the following words:
“On what does it depend whether we are defeated by life or whether we succeed?”
His answer was that he was able to find some sources of satisfaction from positive experiences in his past, and that these recollections of satisfying and pleasurable experiences gave him the strength to survive. However, in addition to being able to draw upon love received in the past, he knew that he had to do something in the present about his dangerous situation. Thus the relationship of satisfactions and frustrations became of great importance to him. He also realized that work, or any activity that is meaningful, is of vital importance to us in order to survive. This realization was a result of his experiences in the camps, when the prisoners were forced to do utterly meaningless and senseless work, such as carrying sand and rubble from one end of the compound to the other. This so called “experiment” had to be repeated continually, and many prisoners either died or committed suicide.
All this led to the development of a new approach that was particularly designed to help the unemployed and those who sought meaning and new outlets in their lives. The approach, today known as the Heimler Method, was further developed through Prof. Dr. Heimler’s work with the unemployed under the auspices of the Hendon Experiment and the Hounslow Project, projects in England that Prof. Dr. Heimler directed. The Heimler Method is based upon a psycho-social feedback system. A fundamental component of the Method is the conviction that people who are coming for help know more about themselves than the therapist, although they may not be aware of it.
(Based on “Survival in Society” by Eugene Heimler)