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Kogan, I. (2003). On Being a Dead, Beloved Child. Psychoanal Q., 72(3):727-766.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 72(3):727-766

On Being a Dead, Beloved Child Related Papers

Ilany Kogan

Only his children Job did not receive again double, because a human life is not a thing that can be duplicated.

—Kierkegaard 1941, p. 126


Children of Holocaust survivors are born into families in which their parents experienced the sudden disintegration of their normal world, a world replaced by one in which appalling cruelty, loss of loved ones, and constant fear of death became the everyday norm. When the survivors are also parents who lost a child in the Holocaust, one or both of them often view a new child as a replacement for the one who was lost. This has profound effects on the development of the new child, who then concretizes the parents' unconscious fantasies and expectations in his or her life goals and practices. The replacement child's self-perception is often as a loved and narcissistically valued being, but only on the condition that he or she fulfills the destiny of the child who was lost. Since it is impossible to compete with an idealized rival whose sins have been paid for by death, the dead child becomes a hated “sibling” who destroys the autonomy of the surviving child's ego ideal.


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