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Mattsson, B. Maliniemi-Piispanen, S. Aaltonen, J. (2017). Traces of the past: an interview study with Finnish war children who did not return to Finland after the Second World War. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 40(2):129-137.

(2017). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 40(2):129-137

Traces of the past: an interview study with Finnish war children who did not return to Finland after the Second World War

Barbara Mattsson, Sinikka Maliniemi-Piispanen and Jukka Aaltonen

This paper is an in-depth qualitative study based on interviews with 10 Finnish children who were evacuated to Sweden during Second World War and who did not return to Finland after the war. The interviewees were asked to tell about their lives. Nine of them were between 2 and 5 years and one was 7 years old at the time of evacuation. The aim was to study how their childhood experiences were reflected in adult memories, how they remembered or did not remember. This paper focuses on the consequences of not knowing about one’s early life and also on whether it is possible to observe signs of the Finnish mother. She did not appear explicitly but could be sensed in the tendency of the interviewees to express negations, displacement and active denial. The interviewers’ countertransference gave a sense of the unspoken but present, as feelings of shame and diffuse anger. The difficulty for the interviewees to think about or reflect over the loss of mother and the experience of evacuation led to a reduced ability to create meaning – in the sense of knowing oneself. We also looked for a comprehensive picture of the war children’s experience.

[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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