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Ellman, P.L. (2013). Facing the Pain: Learning from the Power of Witnessing the Holocaust. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 94(6):1185-1189.

(2013). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 94(6):1185-1189

Facing the Pain: Learning from the Power of Witnessing the Holocaust

Paula L. Ellman

In showing how witnessing of the Holocaust takes place, this panel demonstrated how facing the pain evolves with regard to atrocity, genocide and traumas in the mind. The six presenters are contributors to a book, The Power of Witnessing: Reflections, Reverberations, and Traces of the Holocaust - Trauma, Psychoanalysis, and the Living Mind (Goodman and Meyers, 2012). The chair, Raquel Berman, from Mexico City, was born in Poland, two hours from the border of Czechoslovakia and the discussant, Werner Bohleber, is German and writes extensively about trauma in relation to the Holocaust, both about victims and perpetrators, and across generations. The reporter, Paula Ellman, also contributed to the Power of Witnessing as a working psychoanalyst during 9/11. The format of the panel replicated in vivo the way testimony takes place with personal narrative, and brought the audience into intimate contact with mass and individual agonies, and resilience and creativity. There is much gratitude for Nancy Goodman's work in assembling this panel.

Raquel Berman introduced the session, speaking of interminable elaboration as not only related to the Holocaust but applicable to all areas of trauma. She suggested that both personal and psychoanalytic thinking make contact with the impact of mass trauma through sublimated outlets, like poetry, allowing for vital intersubjective phenomena that makes psychic growth possible. Dr. Berman informed us that some of the panellists are child survivors, and the discussant is a German psychoanalyst who also carries the burden of the Holocaust.

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