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I seem to recall someone who was a POW, possibly held by Japanese, saying something like that the people that survived were the ones that gave up hope of getting out and the people that died were the ones who thought they would get out by Christmas and when Christmas rolled by their hope died with them?

Any references to that please?

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    Might have been Stockdale - the precise quote doesn't show up in medium.com but the sentiment seems to be there. "In Vietnam, the optimists believed they were going to be home by Christmas. . . . 'I think they all died of a broken heart.' "
    – MCW
    Aug 26 at 22:48
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    I think you found it - thank you.
    – Mat Kay
    Aug 26 at 23:13
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Might have been Stockdale - the precise quote doesn't show up in medium.com but the sentiment seems to be there. "In Vietnam, the optimists believed they were going to be home by Christmas. . . . 'I think they all died of a broken heart.' "

  • MCW
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    snaps Now I remember where I heard this! This is the so-called Stockdale Paradox.
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 26 at 23:49
  • thank you as well.
    – Mat Kay
    Aug 27 at 0:10
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I would wager that the ultimate source of this saying is Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. The book describes the author's experiences as an inmate in several Nazi death camps. In this short work, one can find the following passage:

I once had a dramatic demonstration of the close link between the loss of faith in the future and this dangerous giving up. F, my senior block warden, a fairly well-known composer and librettist, confided in me one day: 'I would like to tell you something, Doctor. I have had a strange dream. A voice told me that I could wish for something, that I should only say what I wanted to know, and all my questions would be answered. What do you think I asked? That I would like to know when the war would be over for me. You know what I mean, Doctor - for me! I wanted to know when we, when our camp, would be liberated and our sufferings come to an end.'

'And when did you have this dream?' I asked.

'In February, 1945,' he answered. It was then the beginning of March.

'What did your dream voice answer?"

Furtively he whispered to me, "March thirtieth."

When F told me about his dream, he was still full of hope and convinced that the voice of his dream would be right. But as the promised day drew nearer, the war news which reached our camp made it appear very unlikely that we would be free on the promised date. On March twenty-ninth, F suddenly became ill and ran a high temperature. On March thirtieth, the day his prophecy had told him that the war and suffering would be over for him, he became delirious and lost consciousness. On March thirty-first, he was dead. To all outward appearances, he had died of typhus.

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