Making sense of the past - Perspectives on resilience among holocaust survivors

Liat Ayalon, Chris Perry, Patricia A. Arean, Mardi J. Horowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The concept of "survivor guilt" has come into increasingly widespread use over the past four decades. However, there has been almost no research on the resolution of moral dilemmas following exposure to severe trauma. The present study employed qualitative analyses of five testimonies of holocaust survivors to explore moral dilemmas and their resolution. In all five testimonies, survivors discussed a discrepancy between their behaviors prior to the war and after the war in contrast to their behaviors during the war. Remaining human in the face of dehumanizing experiences was described as a major struggle in all five testimonies. Ways of resolving this discrepancy varied, with some survivors willingly acknowledging its presence and others denying it. In all cases reviewed, however, the discrepancy continued to exist even five decades after the Holocaust.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-293
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Loss and Trauma
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2007


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