The Bereaved Survivor: Trauma Survivors and Blank Mourning

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The paper focuses on a certain category of complex mourning which is entitled “blank mourning”: a mode of mourning unique to bereaved parents who themselves, or whose families, are Holocaust survivors. In “blank mourning,” the experience of mourning includes a mixture of dimensions of sacrificer and sacrificed, victim and victimizer. This mixture turns the object of mourning into an ambivalent one, and as a result, its representation becomes impossible. Instead, sensory adhesion to the concrete object replaces the ability to produce a rich inner representation of this object. This is reflected in a hollow and artificial use of pseudo-symbolic structures of language, in recourse to clichés, and in the clinging to rituals of mourning which, like clichés, do not mediate between the mourner and the lost object but rather hold it in a compulsive grip that separates the mourner and the pain of loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-83
Number of pages10
JournalPsychoanalytic Perspectives
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Copyright © 2020 National Institute for the Psychotherapies.


  • bereavement
  • blank mourning
  • pseudo-language
  • survivors’ guilt
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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