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Lorenzer, A. (1968). Some Observations on the Latency of Symptoms in Patients Suffering from Persecution Sequelae. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 49:316-318.

(1968). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 49:316-318

Some Observations on the Latency of Symptoms in Patients Suffering from Persecution Sequelae

Alfred Lorenzer

In the present symposium a special phenomenon has been mentioned, namely that of latency of symptoms. This is an obscure but important problem on which I wish to comment. What I have to contribute are some observations my colleagues and I made on the so-called symptom-free interval. I wish, however, to mention that these experiences were not in the first place made with concentration camp victims but with patients suffering from traumatic neuroses caused by incomparably milder traumatizations. The reason why I present these cases as models which might facilitate the understanding of cases of symptom latency occurring with concentration camp victims, is the following. Glover, commenting on the specific kind of inaccessibility encountered in severe traumatic neuroses, recommended an approach by way of comparable but less severe cases. He expected that in the milder forms some factors might be elicited which would also apply to the severer processes. The more urgent the defence, the more impenetrable the warding-off mechanisms. I think that our observations are likely to prove the validity of Glover's recommendation.

The patients we saw had suffered severe bodily traumata during war, either loss of eyesight or of limbs. In striking contrast to the usual course of such injuries, our patients showed no emotional reactions to their mutilations. Pain and operations were stoically endured and overcome with the help of a great display of activity. The injuries and the consequences thereof "did not mean anything" to them; psychologically speaking, the reality was put aside by an act of "denial of affect".

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