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Hoppe, K.D. (1968). Re-Somatization of Affects in Survivors of Persecution. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 49:324-326.

(1968). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 49:324-326

Re-Somatization of Affects in Survivors of Persecution

Klaus D. Hoppe

Liberated from the abyss of gruesome existence in German concentration camps or hiding places, many survivors were suffering from psychosomatic disturbances. Friedman (1949) examined 172 former concentration camp inmates who were jailed in Cyprus and found that "most of the complaints were predominantly psychosomatic". Since then, Bastiaans (1957), Strauss (1957), von Baeyer et al.(1964), Eitinger (1964), Bensheim (1960), and Lederer (1965) described psychosomatic symptoms in concentration camp victims. Venzlaff (1963) and Paul and Herberg (1963) found the same in Jewish persons who were degraded or had to hide for years.

Our own psychiatric evaluations confirmed the frequency of psychosomatic disturbances and emotional outbursts. Four affects—anger, depression, withdrawal, and anxiety—were studied in their relationship to two groups of psychosomatic disturbances. We distinguished between psychosomatic reactions such as tensionheadache, insomnia, gastro-intestinal disturbances, etc., and psychosomatic disorders, like asthma, ulcer, hypertension, etc. We differentiated the degree of evidence of the affects as follows: non-evident, mild, moderate, strong.

During recent years we examined 138 survivors of persecution (Hoppe, 1966) and treated seven former camp inmates in psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy (Hoppe, 1965). These persons were sent to us by their legal advisors for the purpose of having us check for any evidence of severe psychic damage due to persecution.

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