Survivor guilt

A critical review from the lens of the Holocaust

Samuel Juni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Survivor guilt is a construct which is ill defined in the literature. Disparate overlapping and inconsistent formulations are outlined and critiqued from the orientation of reactions of Jewish Holocaust victims. Utilizing the perspective of Defense Mechanism Theory, guilt is explored as an adaptive construct of mastery and survival in extreme conditions. Aspects of culpability in guilt are examined. Brief quotes from survivor narratives are presented to elaborate nuances of guilt experiences. Defensive strategies which coincide with exposure to violence and suffering of others and where there is no overt personal threat experienced by the ‘survivor’ are highlighted. A framework is proposed synthesizing the various motifs, bridging emotions ranging from self-recrimination to traumatic anxiety. The assumptions that survivor guilt is engendered by survival and that it entails feelings of guilt are both challenged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-337
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Review of Victimology
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

Fingerprint

Holocaust
guilt
defense mechanism
emotion
threat
violence
anxiety
narrative
experience

Keywords

  • defense mechanisms
  • Holocaust
  • Survivor guilt
  • victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

Survivor guilt : A critical review from the lens of the Holocaust. / Juni, Samuel.

In: International Review of Victimology, Vol. 22, No. 3, 01.09.2016, p. 321-337.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{b028c0b7bf2b4343b62005b9853865a5,
title = "Survivor guilt: A critical review from the lens of the Holocaust",
abstract = "Survivor guilt is a construct which is ill defined in the literature. Disparate overlapping and inconsistent formulations are outlined and critiqued from the orientation of reactions of Jewish Holocaust victims. Utilizing the perspective of Defense Mechanism Theory, guilt is explored as an adaptive construct of mastery and survival in extreme conditions. Aspects of culpability in guilt are examined. Brief quotes from survivor narratives are presented to elaborate nuances of guilt experiences. Defensive strategies which coincide with exposure to violence and suffering of others and where there is no overt personal threat experienced by the ‘survivor’ are highlighted. A framework is proposed synthesizing the various motifs, bridging emotions ranging from self-recrimination to traumatic anxiety. The assumptions that survivor guilt is engendered by survival and that it entails feelings of guilt are both challenged.",
keywords = "defense mechanisms, Holocaust, Survivor guilt, victimization",
author = "Samuel Juni",
year = "2016",
month = "9",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1177/0269758016637480",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "22",
pages = "321--337",
journal = "International Review of Victimology",
issn = "0269-7580",
publisher = "A B Academic Publishers",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Survivor guilt

T2 - A critical review from the lens of the Holocaust

AU - Juni, Samuel

PY - 2016/9/1

Y1 - 2016/9/1

N2 - Survivor guilt is a construct which is ill defined in the literature. Disparate overlapping and inconsistent formulations are outlined and critiqued from the orientation of reactions of Jewish Holocaust victims. Utilizing the perspective of Defense Mechanism Theory, guilt is explored as an adaptive construct of mastery and survival in extreme conditions. Aspects of culpability in guilt are examined. Brief quotes from survivor narratives are presented to elaborate nuances of guilt experiences. Defensive strategies which coincide with exposure to violence and suffering of others and where there is no overt personal threat experienced by the ‘survivor’ are highlighted. A framework is proposed synthesizing the various motifs, bridging emotions ranging from self-recrimination to traumatic anxiety. The assumptions that survivor guilt is engendered by survival and that it entails feelings of guilt are both challenged.

AB - Survivor guilt is a construct which is ill defined in the literature. Disparate overlapping and inconsistent formulations are outlined and critiqued from the orientation of reactions of Jewish Holocaust victims. Utilizing the perspective of Defense Mechanism Theory, guilt is explored as an adaptive construct of mastery and survival in extreme conditions. Aspects of culpability in guilt are examined. Brief quotes from survivor narratives are presented to elaborate nuances of guilt experiences. Defensive strategies which coincide with exposure to violence and suffering of others and where there is no overt personal threat experienced by the ‘survivor’ are highlighted. A framework is proposed synthesizing the various motifs, bridging emotions ranging from self-recrimination to traumatic anxiety. The assumptions that survivor guilt is engendered by survival and that it entails feelings of guilt are both challenged.

KW - defense mechanisms

KW - Holocaust

KW - Survivor guilt

KW - victimization

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84981713269&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84981713269&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1177/0269758016637480

DO - 10.1177/0269758016637480

M3 - Article

VL - 22

SP - 321

EP - 337

JO - International Review of Victimology

JF - International Review of Victimology

SN - 0269-7580

IS - 3

ER -