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Mann, G. (2020). Perpetrators and Victims: Can the Self Renounce Its Trauma?. Psychoanal. Inq., 40(7):487-496.

(2020). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 40(7):487-496

Perpetrators and Victims: Can the Self Renounce Its Trauma?

Gabriela Mann, Ph.D.

The article describes a group of German and Israeli analysts who during fourteen annual meetings explored their personal histories and analytic cases on the background of the Holocaust. The group began with the conventional split between “perpetrators” and “victims”. Eventually, the group process led to the renunciation of pre-conceived attitudes, transforming traumas from private disasters to shared experiences and acceptance of an ethical code of responsibility for understanding what happened and recognizing what remains incomprehensible. A vignette of a patient who suffered from bodily sensations due to imprinted trauma related to the Holocaust, illustrates the process of reclaiming unlived experiences and freeing the mind from nameless dread. The discussion stresses that Freedom of the Self is not just renunciation of personal attachments to past traumas but also attaining a broad perspective that facilitates understanding the traumatic experience within a larger context.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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