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Gamble, D. (2004). The Third Reich in the Unconscious by Vamik D. Volkan, Gabrielle Ast and William F. Greer, Jr. (Brunner-Routledge, New York, 2002). 211 pp. $34.95 (hardback).. Psychoanal. Psychother., 18(3):355-357.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 18(3):355-357

The Third Reich in the Unconscious by Vamik D. Volkan, Gabrielle Ast and William F. Greer, Jr. (Brunner-Routledge, New York, 2002). 211 pp. $34.95 (hardback).

Review by:
Damian Gamble

The subject of this book is the psychological effect of large-scale trauma on subsequent generations. It arises from psycho therapeutic work with individuals whose parents or ancestors endured unbearable persecution, war or natural disaster.

The book is in three parts. The first part is a theoretical overview, the second part presents a number of case histories and the third part considers technical issues relating to treatment.

The authors tell us that a population-scale catastrophe can be thought of as a single (if massive) traumatic event affecting a group of people or as many separate traumatic events affecting many separate individuals. Each individual experiences his or her own individual trauma that has a particular meaning and impact; everyone has their own story to tell. However, the meaning of each individual's story will also be modified by the impact on the group and the individual's identity within the group. The effect on the group is partly a function of the nature of the traumatic event. The impact of devastation caused by war is likely to be different to that caused by natural disaster, for example. If an ethnic group is victimized by another group then the group that is attacked may feel helplessness and shame as well as a sense of rage and entitlement to revenge. These feelings, the authors suggest, can become internalized as part of the group identity. The effects can be long-lasting and be passed down the generations for a considerable time. In 1987 Slobodan Milosevic was able to evoke feelings of victimization within some Serbian people that were associated with a battle that had taken place 600 years earlier; the appalling events that followed in the 1990s are well-known.

This internalization of a traumatized self-image can also occur within a

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