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Can J Psychiatry. 1993 Aug;38(6):384-9.

Child survivors of the Holocaust--strategies of adaptation.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.


Child survivors have only recently been recognized as a developmentally distinct group with psychological experiences different from older survivors. The wartime circumstances of Nazi persecution caused enforced separation from family and friends, and all the survivors experienced persecution in the form of physical and emotional abuse, starvation and degradation, and were witnesses to cruelty. This paper is based on information from interviews and therapy with 25 child survivors, the majority of whom were not patients. Coping strategies are discussed in terms of their survival value in wartime and post-war adaptive value. Three themes which reverberate throughout the lives of child survivors, now adults, are discussed in greater detail: bereavement, memory and intellect. The fact that the majority of child survivors live normal and creative lives provides an opportunity to learn what factors have served them over 40 years, to provide the resilience and strength to cope after such a shattering beginning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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