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Holocaust survivors and their children: Comments on psychiatric consequences and psychiatric terminology

Authors
Journal
Comprehensive Psychiatry
0010-440X
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
25
Issue
5
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/0010-440x(84)90051-8
Disciplines
  • Medicine

Abstract

Abstract Progress in the description and therapy of Holocaust survivors and their children has been hampered by unsatisfactory terminology, denial on the part of the therapist, and occasionally hostility to the survivor. The author suggests that the therapist's inability to comprehend the extent of Nazi sadism has unwittingly led clinical researchers to attempt to understand the perpetrators by investigating survivors. To survivors are attributed “Nazi-like” behaviors through such mechanisms as identification with the aggressor. These behaviors are then scrutinized as if they belonged to the victim, rather than the persons who committed the original aggression. Aggression has been misunderstood in the context of Holocaust survivors, as has the concept of survivor guilt, which is less commonly present than has been assumed. The failure to refine survivor terminology has at times misdirected treatment and obscured the remarkable adaptations and coping styles of the majority of the survivor generation and its offspring.

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