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Hogman, F. (1998). Trauma and Identity Through two Generations of the Holocaust. Psychoanal. Rev., 85(4):551-578.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Review, 85(4):551-578

Trauma and Identity Through two Generations of the Holocaust

Flora Hogman

Massive trauma of one generation reverberates in the life of the following generations. In this case study presentation I will follow in detail the lives of four children of survivors who married and had children. Seven of their children were also interviewed. Coming to terms with the Holocaust is a central theme in the accounts of these women. Each woman had a different home experience and her own way of dealing with the suffering of the Holocaust. The avenues they chose for dealing with their feelings about the war were reflected in their children's upbringing, and their struggles were also seen in those children's (third generation interviewed) own grappling with the legacy of the Holocaust.

The focus of the inquiry was to highlight the resolution of trauma over generations: The approach stressed second-generation adjustment to their parents suffering, their parenting of their children, and a dialogue with these children as well.

Brief Overview of the Literature

Perel and Saul (1989), in their cross-generational work with Holocaust survivor families, address the question of enmeshment. According to them, the issues of loss and suffering of the parents become overriding considerations in the lives of the family members. Children find themselves taking parenting roles with their scarred, immigrant parent; inasmuch as the children feel overprotected as well, separation individuation becomes a very complicated affair. Survivors show inconsistencies in parenting rules due to their own needs and fears.


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