Dr. Irit FelsenDr. Irit Felsen, adjunct professor at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, has published a paper in the July 16, 2018, issue of Psychoanalytic Psychology, a publication of the American Psychological Association.

Titled “Parental trauma and adult sibling relationships in holocaust-survivor families,” the paper addresses a pattern of difficult relationships among adult siblings in Holocaust survivor families and discusses the effects of emotional and relational dynamics related to parental trauma and post-traumatic reactions on the siblings’ relationships.

Felsen noted that “this paper has been in the making for a long time and reflects my initial surprise and sorrow as I began to notice that very strained sibling relationships, even relationship cut-offs, were very common among adult children of Holocaust survivors.” Writing this also had a personal dimension for Felsen. As the daughter of two survivors, “the rupture of relationships among adult siblings and the subsequent loss of connections for the third generation with uncles, aunts and cousins was a particularly poignant observation.”

Over her many years of working with Holocaust survivors and their descendants, “I have come to understand this phenomenon as one of the imprints of genocide which reaches beyond the effects on individuals to the fabric of family relationships across several generations. I feel that we must attend to this less-well-recognized aspect of trauma-related dynamics and help new trauma-exposed families protect against the potential damage to the sibling bond, which is such an important life-long resource.”

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