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Echoes of the Trauma : Relationship Themes and Emotions in the Narratives of the Children of Holocaust Survivors
Wiseman, Hadas and Jacques P. Barber
Cambridge University Press / Hardcover / 2008-07-01 / 0521879477
Trauma / Holocaust
price: $136.95 (may be subject to change)
304 pages
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This book discusses the echoes of the trauma that are traced in the relational narratives that the sons and daughters of Holocaust survivors tell about their experiences growing up in survivor families. An innovative combination of the Core Conflictual Relationship Theme (CCRT) method with narrative-qualitative analysis revealed common themes and emotional patterns that are played out in the survivors' children's meaningful relationships, especially in those with their parents. The relational world of the second generation is understood in the context of an intergenerational communication style called "knowing-not knowing," in which there is a dialectical tension between knowing and not knowing the parental trauma. In the survivors' children's current parent-adolescent relationships with their own children (survivors' grandchildren), they aspire to correct the child-parent dynamics that they had experienced by trying to openly negotiate conflicts and to maintain close bonds. Clinicians treating descendents of other massive trauma would benefit from the insights offered into these complex intergenerational psychological processes.


"In this remarkable book, Wiseman and Barber employ an ingenious approach for studying the "echoes of trauma" in children of Holocaust survivors. Combining the descriptive nuance of the case study approach with the rigor of formal narrative analysis procedures, they provide a powerful portrait of the relational and emotional themes that pervade the lives of survivors' children. Common themes such as the conflicting needs for closeness and autonomy, and the need to protect vulnerable parents are vividly illustrated in their subjects' lives. Of particular interest is the phenomenon of intergenerational transmission of trauma resulting in a type of knowing without knowing. This is a rich, compelling and beautifully written book that will be of interest to a wide audience of readers."
—Jeremy D. Safran, Ph.D., Professor and Director of Clinical Psychology, New School for Social Research
"As a wartime hidden child I lived in the shadow of the Holocaust. The miraculous survival of my parents ensured that I lived in their shadow also. There are consequences that reverberate for a life-time . . . and beyond. I see myself, my parents and my children in the accounts offered in this compelling work. It is not about pathology, it is about life lived within a profound and dramatic trauma and its inevitable consequences—some damaging, some inspirational. This book is an important contribution to the understanding and treatment of trans-generational issues, no matter the origins."
—Robert Krell, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia


1. Introduction: a narrative approach to bridging the gap between clinical case studies and empirical research
2. Studying relationship narratives with the Core Conflictual Relationship Theme (CCRT) method
Part I. Relational Themes in Narratives:
3. Wishes for closeness and autonomy
4. The need to protect vulnerable parents and to avoid conflicts
5. 'Without words': themes of interpersonal communication
Part II. Emotions in the Narratives:
6. Anger
7. Guilt, shame and embarrassment
8. Anxiety and helplessness
9. Loneliness
10. Joy and pride
Part III. Healing Trauma in the Chain of the Generations:
11. The second generation's experience of parenting their adolescent children
12. Growing up to the music of knowing-not knowing: reflections and clinical implications.

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