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Herzog, J.M. (2003). Commentary on Ilany Kogan's “on Being a Dead, Beloved Child”. Psychoanal Q., 72(3):785-796.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 72(3):785-796

Commentary on Ilany Kogan's “on Being a Dead, Beloved Child” Related Papers

James M. Herzog, M.D.

In a paper entitled “World Beyond Metaphor(1982), published in Generations of the Holocaust, I first tried to posit mechanisms for the transmission of historical trauma from the primarily affected generation to its progeny, and then to explore the ways in which the formation of the mind of the child of survivors might itself be affected by direct interaction with the survivor parents. My technique involved juxtaposing psychoanalytic material from a survivor's son with that from a survivor mother, and extrapolating how pain in the mother might be conveyed to the son, resulting in altered mental processes that reflected the mother's suffering.

This work preceded much knowledge that has since accrued about the ways in which traumatic experience changes brain structure and function and the ways in which the attachment experiences of children of survivors may reflect these neurobiological transformations. We now have access to Hesse and Main's (2000) important work on disorganized attachment and the ways in which traumatized caregivers transmit in their linguistic discourse unsettling and structure-altering directives, inferences, and problematic relational data that take up residence in the minds and behavior of their offspring.


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