The survivor syndrome: further observations and dimensions

J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1981;29(2):413-25. doi: 10.1177/000306518102900207.


Clinical experience over three and a half decades in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of close to 2000 concentration camp survivors indicates that we are dealing with a type of massive traumatization of such magnitude and severity as to cause a recognizable clinical entity I have named "the survivor syndrome," which develops irrespective of age, sex, and individual or sociocultural background. The clinical symptoms and characteristic features of this syndrome are described in some detail. The condition is chronic, in many cases severe, and presents unique difficulties to both patient and therapist. The influence of the psychic disturbances on the offspring is frequent and notable. Further research on the syndrome and comparative studies on its occurrence in survivors of natural disasters is suggested. But one fact can be stated with certainty: The effects of the holocaust on the survivors linger on.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Concentration Camps
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Grief
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychoanalytic Theory*
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology
  • Survival*