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Auerhahn, N.C. Peskin, H. (2003). Action Knowledge, Acknowledgment, and Interpretive Action in Work with Holocaust Survivors. Psychoanal Q., 72(3):615-659.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 72(3):615-659

Action Knowledge, Acknowledgment, and Interpretive Action in Work with Holocaust Survivors

Nanette C. Auerhahn, Ph.D. and Harvey Peskin, Ph.D.

Survivors withhold disclosure of suffering when their terror is unwitnessed and when their expectation of disbelief or disregard obfuscates the reality of persecution. Knowledge itself then becomes traumatized, losing the power to inform and mobilize action. Survivors become habituated to suffering in a manner that subverts meaning, dampens vitality as well as pain, and arrests empathic connectedness. The dearth of transferential cues in such depleted existences leaves analysts in doubt as to whether they have been unintrusive or unavailable to these patients. Restoring survivors' sense of being witnessed requires interpretive actions that acknowledge the suffering that survivors have lost the will and means to make known or even represent. Such interventions draw on analysts' own projective identifications and use of the self, counterposing the will to live against the resignation to unwitnessed terror.

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