Topics: Ageing and the Elderly, Holocaust Survivors, Memory, Mental Health, Trauma, Main Topic: Holocaust and Memorial
Abstract: Theories of psychological trauma have suggested that trauma narratives are fragmented, lack emotion and cognitive terms (narrative evaluation), and show linguistic indicators of reliving (narrative immersion). We tested the relation between narrative evaluation and immersion on the one hand with PTSD symptoms (Impact of Event Scale – Revised) and remembered dangerous/frightening qualities of the experience on the other hand. A sample of 26 elderly Belgian Jews narrated their lives. As children they had been separated from their families to be hidden and saved from Nazi persecution. We analyzed sections of their narratives regarding separation from parents. PTSD symptoms correlated only with a lack of positive evaluations, and narrative immersion correlated with the scariness/dangerousness of the original events. We suggest that the emotional quality of memories is sufficient to predict narrative qualities that signal reliving, but that the lack of positive emotions is specific to the presence of PTSD symptoms.
The destiny of an unacknowledged trauma: The deferred retroactive effect of après‐coup in the hidden Jewish children of wartime Belgium
Topics: Main Topic: Holocaust and Memorial, Holocaust Survivors, Trauma, Psychotherapy / Psychoanalysis, Interviews
Abstract: For almost 45 years, the experience of Jewish children who were hidden during World War II was considered to be of little importance, particularly with respect to what had taken place in the concentration camps. Their very history was ignored in the many accounts of the Holocaust. It was only at the end of the 1980s that their experience began to be thought of as potentially traumatic. In this paper, the authors report on their psychoanalytical research project concerning the psychological outcomes of those experiences that had remained concealed for such an extraordinarily long latency period. The results are based on the analysis of 60 accounts and on psychoanalytically‐oriented group work. The authors show that the trauma experienced by those hidden children was triggered by the retroactive effect of a deferred action [après‐coup].