Traumatic memories of Holocaust survivors’ and their effect on the experience of identity

Ruth Reches, Jolanta Sondaitė

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Collective disasters such as the Holocaust, war, repressions and ethnic violence are man-made political and social disasters. Not only they shock the wider (or future) public strongly, but result in serious trauma to the survived. A psychological trauma is an intense emotional experience with which human beings’ “I” (self) strive. The psychological effects of trauma is the phenomenon of in ability to adapt caused by psychological trauma. The identity is a dynamic system which defines a personality throughout interpersonal relations and emotional experiences. Traumatic memories disrupt conventional processes between of an individual and the community relationships based on trust, care and giving people a sense of control, purpose and interconnectivity since the sense of identity is formed by the relationship with others. Traumas destroy or diminish the victim’s earlier formed structure of self-perception and distort an individual’s sense of reality, warping meanings of real events. In our research we tried to analyze how trauma affected a person’s self-perception in the Holocaust. A biographical narrative interview was used to collect the data. One informant participated in the pilot research. The thematic analysis procedures were employed in order to achieve the goal. Themes were generated to delineate the descriptions of traumatic experiences and understandings of how they affect the informant’s life. Thematic analysis of the interview with the Holocaust survivor paved the way for better understanding of how traumatic memories are involved in the identity experience revealing the prevailing patterns such as self-perception as a weak physiological being, the relationship with the family, relationship with God, gratefulness for being alive.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-85
JournalJournal of young scientists
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - 2012



  • Psychological trauma
  • Holocaust experience
  • Identity

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