The body as narrator: Body movement memory and the life stories of holocaust survivors

Dita Judith Federman, Tova Band-Winterstein, Galit Zana Sterenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study explores the interaction between two narrative worlds of substance: verbal life stories and body movement expressions among Holocaust survivors. A narrative phenomenology approach was used to investigate the way in which people organize their lives, granting them meaning through their life stories and narratives. Sixteen Holocaust survivors participated in this study: men and women aged 73–93. Qualitative open and unstructured interviews were conducted and videotaped. Six major clusters were found. Each cluster presents unique characteristics of verbal and movement expressions: activity, passivity, arousal, self-reassurance, deadlock, and suffocation. These findings shed new light on the survivors’ traumatic life stories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-29
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Loss and Trauma
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Body movement memory
  • Holocaust survivors
  • body phenomenology
  • life stories
  • narratives
  • self-identity
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatric Mental Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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