A House Next Door to Trauma: Learning from Holocaust Survivors How to Respond to Atrocity

A House Next Door to Trauma: Learning from Holocaust Survivors How to Respond to Atrocity

A House Next Door to Trauma: Learning from Holocaust Survivors How to Respond to Atrocity

A House Next Door to Trauma: Learning from Holocaust Survivors How to Respond to Atrocity


"How do we respond to extreme suffering? Judith Hassan faced this challenge by listening to the survivors and learning from them as the experts on their own experiences. She discovered that conventional therapeutic responses did not seem to go far enough and she has spent twenty-five years developing innovative services for survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, as well as more recent refugees from Bosnia. Judith Hassan has developed a model that addresses the trauma of individuals who faced starvation, torture and who witnessed the murder of close family members. Her book discusses the kinds of demands placed on those who work with these survivors and opens up issues for others in the field of war trauma to answer in their own particular and appropriate way. Translating the language of liberation into practice, A House Next Door to Trauma points to a different way of becoming a neighbour to all those who suffer extreme war experiences. It is clear and hopeful in the positive potential it lends to therapeutic work in this area." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Working with survivors and refugees who have suffered extreme trauma is a dynamic and ever-evolving process. Those of us who have not been subjected to uprooting, persecution, torture and massive losses can only see shadows or glimpses of these unimaginable experiences. Try as we may to empathise with people who have witnessed indescribable horror; who have reached what Amery (1999) calls ‘the mind’s limits’, both physically and mentally; who have encountered what Herzog (1982) calls a ‘world beyond metaphor’ (pp.103–19), we can never imagine what it must be like to have gone through such hell.

The language of trauma cannot evoke the degradation, dehumanisation, powerlessness and starvation characteristic of extreme suffering such as that found in the Nazi Holocaust. The fragility of language and the limitation of what can be tolerated in our conceptual thinking tend to render the words to describe these horrific memories void and redundant.

The inadequacy of communication in the reality of today’s world brings with it the potential danger of a wide gulf emerging between those who have suffered severe trauma and those who wish to reach out and help them.

This book will explore ways of reconstructing a language through which the whispering voices of those who have suffered can be heard.

When I started my work with refugees from Nazi persecution twenty-five years ago, I found myself in a wilderness of ignorance and lack of interest in the professional world regarding the re-emergence of trauma forty years after the event. Now, twenty-five years on, there is a plethora of literature on the subject of trauma. The reader shifts backwards and forwards as different theories are tossed around in an angry sea of confusion. There are pressing needs in dealing with refugees worldwide, and with the aftermath of war.

There is an urgency to develop a body of knowledge, to provide a secure base on which to build effective ways of working – yet the complexity of trauma defies such clear-cut definition. The subject of extreme trauma is by its . . .

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