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Sjödin, C. (2003). Editorial. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 12(1):1-2.

(2003). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 12(1):1-2


Christer Sjödin, M.D.

A Polish Catholic woman is standing with a spade under an apple tree in a Warsaw garden. Night has fallen during the Second World War. The woman is working under cover of darkness and behind a tall fence. Even so she glances round continually. Afraid of being discovered. In empty glass bottles she places small strips of paper. Then she buries the bottles. Each and every one of the strips of paper contains the names of two children — one Jewish and one Polish. And an address. Each small strip of paper will enable a Jewish child who has been saved to be reunited with its parents. That is if any of them live(1).

This narrative, published in Dagens Nyheter, Sweden's largest morning paper, is about Irena Sendler, a social worker. She risked her own life to save 2,500 children in the Warsaw Ghetto from the holocaust. At the darkest of hours she affirmed her belief that at least some of these children could be reunited with their parents or their relatives.

Faith is also important in psychoanalytical treatment, especially with severely traumatised patients. Individuals sustain injury when the differences between what is conceivable and impressions from the world around them are too large. Violence and oppression directed at political, religious or ethnic groups harm individuals. The children in the Warsaw Ghetto were deprived of their humanity. This is what marginalisation and torture is intended to achieve. The links between individuals and the community are impaired.

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