This is correct because most people cannot handle it.
Subsequently, people tend to feel discouraged or stunted rather than encouraged.
However, many people find that focusing on aspects of Gehinnom in a positive way encourages positive growth & helps them turn away from damaging & forbidden behaviors.
With that in mind, let's continue with what Rav Dessler says about it in Strive for Truth!, Volume 2, Part 3: Gehinnom—Concept & Application.
Death Brings No Magical Transformation
Not so fast, says Rav Dessler.
A little-known concept among the masses (yet widely discussed in Chazal) is that a person goes into his or her life after death with the same personality maintained in physical life.
An aspect of Gehinnom described by the Maharal of Prague--he'der (nothingness)—resembles a state of "total sensory deprivation" similar to such chambers in experimental operation in Rav Dessler's times (and ours), in which a person is deprived of ANY sensory impression from the world outside such a chamber.
Rav Dessler notes this causes psychic strain in the short term and madness in the long term.
Imagine All the People with No Pumpkin Spice Lattes
For example, if you rely on all sorts of crutches (particularly unsavory ones) in This World, you come with those same desires & addictions into the Next World...with no way to access these crutches & desires whatsoever.
We all know people (including ourselves, rachmana litzlan) who make themselves feel better in material ways: drugs, drinking, shooting nasty barbs at others, eating, gambling, shopping, video-watching, music, dance-clubbing, slandering, yelling, violence, vengeance, licentious behavior, and much more.
So a person who only indulges himself, with no middot work whatsoever (a rasha, according to Rav Dessler), enters the Next World as he or she is in This World.
There, they enter a state in which they cannot snort cocaine, punch anyone, scream & verbally abuse this he'der state into submission, down buttery popcorn & cookie dough-fudge ice cream while binging on their favorite movie or TV series, seduce anyone, destroy he'der's reputation by slandering it to others, listen to heavy metal or angry rap, or doll themselves up & make their way to their favorite discotheque.
He'der also lacks cigarettes & good coffee—including Pumpkin Spice Lattes.
Why is This a Happy Concept?
True confessions: I've been known to find comfort in chocolate & peanut butter.
(And that's not all! But let's just leave it at the chocolate & peanut butter.)
And it's not a joke. So the past couple of years have seen me working on eliminating my lifelong food taavot.
It doesn't happen overnight.
But the work is really, really beneficial.
Now, you may be wondering how the extremely depressing he'der Gehinnom concept can be spun in a happy way.
After all, you might be thinking, You mean that not only will I take my penchant for watching old episodes of Bewitched with me to the Next World—but have NO way to satisfy that indulgence?!! And what's this about the lack of Pumpkin Spice lattes? Does that mean even on Shabbos, when sufferers get a reprieve from Gehinnom?!!
So the happy fact about the above is this:
Any time you experience the pain of deprivation in This World, you won't experience it in the Next.
Meaning, that pain you feel by NOT watching streamed media, NOT bullying others into submission, and NOT drinking yourself into stupidity, NOT taking revenge, and NOT sharing juicy gossip or mocking others to make yourself feel better, etc...
...this is pain you won't feel in the Next World.
You're breaking your attachment now.
And even if you don't completely break it, just the fact that YOU ARE TRYING grants you bonus points in the Next World.
So by restraining & resisting meaningless indulgences and forbidden behavior in This World, you give yourself something to look forward to in the Next.
Regular People Fight the Stupefying State of He'der
But what about a decent person?
What of the person who decides to face his or her free time or challenges by utilizing holy pursuits?
I don't even mean tzaddikim.
For example, I know numerous "regular" people who fight dark moments by doing something productive.
Feeling depressed, a woman claws her way out of her lethargy by making a nutritious soup for a neighbor after birth.
A man decides to learn Torah when he's bored, even if he's not in the mood.
Both men & women turn to some kind of Torah learning when they find a free moment.
When feeling attacked, hopeless, angry, or sad, "regular" people still force themselves to respond with holiness by saying to Hashem "Thank you" or "Gam zu l'tovah." They may say Tehillim or simply remain silent, knowing that Hashem sees their pain & crowns them for their efforts.
They make themselves sing & dance.
Even mundane activities can be uplifted into the realm of spiritual when used to fight darkness.
For example, people who feel depressed or beaten down and yet force themselves to wash the sink full of dirty dishes (or heck, even just one frying pan!) or to smile at a child or run an errand or go to sleep on time—this displays heroic effort.
In other words, they fight darkness with light.
And they take these acts and this character with them to the Next World.
(Furthermore...singing, dancing, talking to Hashem, learning by heart can all be done in a sensory deprivation chamber. But a completely materialistic person would never think to do that.)
He'der Hell on Earth #1: A Columbian Kidnapping
Unfortunately, kidnappings occur frequently throughout Central & South America.
They held him for several weeks, often in isolation, and sometimes tortured.
After his release, he stated that what saved his sanity were the Mishnayot he memorized as a child.
With so many endless hours in hostile isolation with no distraction, this not-so-frum man turned to the Mishna he learned in his childhood, recalling & reviewing whatever he remembered in his head.
All his wealth, staff, business acumen, and charisma did not help him in that situation.
Just the Mishna in his head.
He expressed profound gratitude for having been provided with that as a child because he saw that as the key to his mental survival.
He'der Hell on Earth #2: A Terrible Transit Camp
Are We Still Longing for Aspects of Mitzrayim?
While imprisoned in the horrible transit camp of Nexon (a form of Gehinnom in This World), the formerly upper-class Mrs. Kanner found herself surrounded by fellow Jewish women who'd never experienced true Jewish substance.
(You can download a legally free PDF of the book here: http://www.shatteredcrystals.net/files/SHATTERED-CRYSTALS.pdf)
Deprived their whole lives of any soul-sustenance, these women turned to the only thing they knew: their former lives of non-Jewish decadence.
While suffering the deplorable conditions of Nexon, they mourned over their loss of fashionable clothing & meaningless time-fillers (like attending the Berlin opera).
Others sank into despair & silence.
It's all very understandable, needless to say.
After the post, a knowledgeable reader wrote sent me an email saying it reminded him of Bilaam in Gehinnom.
Even today, the evil occultist Bilaam suffers the torments of Gehinnom—while yearning for the very lifestyle that dumped him there in the first place.
Now, I know some people will find the comparison extremely offensive.
These German Jewish ladies are more victims of circumstance and cannot be compared to the intentionally evil Bilaam.
However, I understood what he meant.
And it still fits the message Rav Dessler conveys.
When these women found themselves in an earthly version of he'der, they found themselves with no resources to combat that state. Instead, their misery increased by constantly longing for that which they could never again enjoy. (And lacked any substance anyway.) Like the Berlin opera and high-end fashion.
Yet Mrs. Kanner, habituated to chessed & tefillah, managed to turn to tefillah to help herself.
Yes, she was still miserable. She suffered cold, depression, hunger, diarrhea, and filth.
But emotionally, she did not as much as the others.
Then, when a compassionate non-Jewish nurse named Frau Meder expressed the need for a helper, all the women rejected her request: one didn't feel skilled, one felt too weak (that's totally legitimate on starvation rations, BTW), one didn't enjoy dealing with sick people, and so on.
As Mrs. Kanner recalled on page 171:
They had all given up, but I would not. I could help. I could do something if she would have me.
I rose from my cot and from the far-most corner of the barracks, I called out, “I will help you, nurse.”
And indeed, as Mrs. Kanner stated later (page 174):
If I had not stepped forward and volunteered to work for the Red Cross nurse, I would not have survived the winter at Nexon.
Again, I'm not condemning anyone for not rising to the occasion during genocide.
I've no idea how I would respond myself and find it both arrogant & obnoxious to assume I'd be better than anyone in that situation.
The point is simply this: Because Mrs. Kanner internalized certain Jewish principles (whether she meant to or not), she merited to both survive & be extracted from the earthly he'der Gehinnom in which she found herself.
(Of course, there are people who acted as she did, yet did not survive. Hashem has His unknowable calculations. However, the people who acted as she did, but did not survive Gehinnom on Earth, are certainly not in Gehinnom in the Next World! They are in a wonderful place.)
So this concept of detaching yourself from material vanities (VERY difficult to do in this generation when so many comforts are immediately accessible & even free!) & embracing truly good things of substance?
It benefits us both in This World and the Next (even if initially, it causes a lot of emotional suffering & frustration until you adjust).
Restraint & Self-Denial Paradoxically Expand & Enhance Your World
It really was meant to be uplifting.
I feel strongly that feeling meaning in the very real pain of restraint and self-denial alleviates that pain to some degree.
Plus, the above concept certainly gives us something to look forward to.
Certainly, the less attachment we feel to the material pleasures of This World translates into more pleasure in the Next.
But also those less attached to This World paradoxically tend to enjoy it more.
And I wish that enjoyment for all of us.