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van der Hart, O. Brom, D. (2013). When the Victim Forgets: Trauma-Induced Amnesia and its Assessment in Holocaust Survivors. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 7(1):20-39.

(2013). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 7(1):20-39

When the Victim Forgets: Trauma-Induced Amnesia and its Assessment in Holocaust Survivors

Onno van der Hart and Danny Brom

The Holocaust is one of the most dramatic, massive and traumatic experiences of the twentieth century. The occurrence of amnesia in survivors of the Holocaust was not studied systematically. The topic remains relevant in the light of the ongoing discussion about the veracity of dissociative amnesia and memory after trauma. We have searched biographies, autobiographies, and the clinical and research literature for reports on amnesia, and have descriptions of amnesia in Holocaust survivors. The reasons for the relative paucity of literature on this topic are discussed.

In our postscript we relate this dissociative phenomenon to attachment trauma. We especially elaborate its dissociative nature, using the theory of structural dissociation of the personality, and we discuss its implications for treatment. The interest in amnesia in Holocaust survivors has come up in a period when survivors have reached old age, giving us only partial insight into what might have been a much wider phenomenon in the 1940s and 1950s.

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