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Wangh, M. (1994). Journal of Social Work and Policy in Israel. V-Vi (Special Issue), 1992: Introduction: The Impact of the Holocaust on the Second Generation. Ruben Schindler. Pp. 11-15.. Psychoanal Q., 63:608.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Journal of Social Work and Policy in Israel. V-Vi (Special Issue), 1992: Introduction: The Impact of the Holocaust on the Second Generation. Ruben Schindler. Pp. 11-15.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63:608

Journal of Social Work and Policy in Israel. V-Vi (Special Issue), 1992: Introduction: The Impact of the Holocaust on the Second Generation. Ruben Schindler. Pp. 11-15.

Martin Wangh

Schindler, the chairman of the panel, states that the Shoah survivors' wish "not to remember" what they had suffered is in conflict with the Jewish obligation "to remember" (see the Passover ritual). For the survivors, to remember means to experience incomplete mourning for all the beloved dead and for lost self-ideals. Denial has helped to keep those lost ones alive. To remain silent thus becomes a specific reaction of the survivor; yet this very defense has become a problem for their offspring. It has frequently caused severe distortions of character (including "identity conflicts"). The offspring have often felt that their parents had "assigned" to them specific roles, substitutive for the lost objects. Furthermore, for the survivor to become a witness meant to adopt the position of observer, which might mean separating from the dead and thus betraying them. To mourn while still in the death-camp was impossible; it was suicidal. Upon liberation, to enter the path of memory meant to open floodgates of insupportable rage and despair. Hence, the traumata were suppressed. The resulting silence, however, was transmitted to the next generation. Therapists, defending themselves against overwhelming empathy, often react with intellectual distance toward the communications of these patients, a serious obstacle to treatment. Demonstrating this difficulty in himself, the author quotes from André Schwarz-Bart's classic, The Last of the Just, thus using aesthetics to defend against the accusation of being an observer without feelings.

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Article Citation

Wangh, M. (1994). Journal of Social Work and Policy in Israel. V-Vi (Special Issue), 1992. Psychoanal. Q., 63:608

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