Family approach with grandchildren of Holocaust survivors

Pierre Fossion, Mari-Carmen Rejas, Laurent Servais, Isy Pelc, Siegi Hirsch
American Journal of Psychotherapy 2003, 57 (4): 519-27
Although the transgenerational transmission of Holocaust trauma is now well documented, this subject remains a source of considerable controversy. Moreover, the literature regarding the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors (GHSs, the third generation) is much sparser. We present here several clinical observations, that we made during therapy sessions with certain families of Holocaust survivors (HSs). These families consulted with us because of the symptoms presented by the GHSs as adolescents. These families were characterized by some specific patterns in their relationships that led us to consider that the symptoms of the third generation might be a consequence of the transgenerational transmission of Holocaust trauma. We also describe the clinical strategy we developed to assist these families of HSs. This strategy consisted of an attempt to reinforce the relationships between GHSs and their grandparents, the Holocaust survivors.

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