Suggested Reading List for the June 22 Lecture “Trauma Informed Care of Holocaust Survivors and Other Elderly Trauma Survivors: Dehumanization and Empathy” at the Museum for Jewish Heritage in NYC

On Thursday June 22, I presented a lecture in New York for community professionals and healthcare providers of the MJHS Hospice and Palliative Care. For those who requested relevant readings to complement the lecture, my suggested Reading List is available here.

Irit Felsen

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Presentation at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, July 4-5, 2017

At a workshop being held July 4-5 at Yad Vashem (http://www.yadvashem.org/) in Jerusalem, I will present a talk, together with Danny Brom, Ph.D., entitled “Child Survivors Communicating About Their Holocaust Experiences: The Early Post-War Years”.

The event, made possible with generous support of the Gutwirth Family fund, will bring together an international group of Holocaust researchers to discuss a joint study about the experiences of child survivors of the Holocaust around the globe.

Some of the topics addressed will include the search for children in the postwar period, addressed by Verena Buser from the Free University of Berlin, Germany; the return and retrieval of Jewish children from convents in France, by Eliot Nidam Orvieto, from Yad Vashem, Israel; the re-construction of families after the war will be presented by Adara Goldberg from the Hebrew University and the post-war reception and adoption of war orphans will be addressed by Beth Cohen, from California State University, Northridge, USA.

Additional topics will include the postwar education and “re-judaization” of children in France, to be presented by Sarah Wobick-Segev from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the education of youth in the DP camps, to be presented by Avinoam Patt, from the University of Hartford, CT, USA, and health care services for Jewish children in the American Zone of Occupation in Germany in the years following the war.

                  Irit Felsen

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

REMINDER: TODAY: Lecture on Thurs. June 22: “Understanding the Impact of Early Trauma: Aging Holocaust Survivors Facing the End of Life”

On Thursday June 22, I will be giving a lecture in New York for community professionals and healthcare providers of the MJHS Hospice and Palliative Care, who will participate in a unique program that will educate them about the impact of the Holocaust and its aftermath on survivors and the Second Generation. My presentation will focus on the impact of earlier trauma on the way individuals experience aging, illness and helplessness as patients, as well as on the way the encounter with trauma victims impacts healthcare providers. The main learning objectives will be to allow healthcare providers to understand the interactions between trauma and aging, individual variability in responses to trauma, and the often disguised presentation of PTSD in elderly trauma survivors. The lecture will also describe the pervasive reality of dehumanization in modern medical settings, its functional and non-functional causes, and some of the ways to counter these unintentional processes, in order to prevent traumatization and re-traumatization of patients.

The event will be held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage at Battery Place on Thursday June 22, 2017 at 12:00-5:00pm. This program is made possible by AJAS, UJA Federation of NY and MJHS.

                   Irit Felsen

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Lecture on Thurs. June 22: “Understanding the Impact of Early Trauma: Aging Holocaust Survivors Facing the End of Life”

On Thursday June 22, I will be giving a lecture in New York for community professionals and healthcare providers of the MJHS Hospice and Palliative Care, who will participate in a unique program that will educate them about the impact of the Holocaust and its aftermath on survivors and the Second Generation. My presentation will focus on the impact of earlier trauma on the way individuals experience aging, illness and helplessness as patients, as well as on the way the encounter with trauma victims impacts healthcare providers. The main learning objectives will be to allow healthcare providers to understand the interactions between trauma and aging, individual variability in responses to trauma, and the often disguised presentation of PTSD in elderly trauma survivors. The lecture will also describe the pervasive reality of dehumanization in modern medical settings, its functional and non-functional causes, and some of the ways to counter these unintentional processes, in order to prevent traumatization and re-traumatization of patients.

The event will be held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage at Battery Place on Thursday June 22, 2017 at 12:00-5:00pm. This program is made possible by AJAS, UJA Federation of NY and MJHS.

                   Irit Felsen

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Lessons from the Most Ancient Human Culture on Earth

     I have recently returned from Australia, a vast and beautiful continent, with its enormous Great Barrier coral reef, its rain forests, and its famous arid Outback. Australians pride themselves on flying a single flag, being a single country, from coast to coast. Yet the history of this beautiful place is based on tragedy, that of the convicts who were shipped to this far away penal colony, some for as little as having stolen a loaf of bread, and especially for the tragic impact on the culture of the Aboriginal people. The ancestral owners of the land, as they are now respectfully acknowledged and referred to, have been horrifically mistreated by the “white fella”. For me, the most moving part of the trip was the opportunity to get to meet some Aborigine mental health professionals who participated in the conference I attended, as well as some who are still living close to the land, near the sacred magnificent rock known as  Uluru. The Australian Aboriginal people are the longest living uninterrupted human culture on earth. Evidence suggests that they have lived in Australia for over 50,000 years, and have maintained their culture almost unchanged, until the appearance of the white men in 1778.

Uluru2

        Looking at vividly colorful cave-paintings that are over 25,000 years old is a humbling and moving experience. The paintings are visual representations of the stories that were passed down from generation to generation, from father to son, from mother to daughter, teaching the practical arts and the ethical laws that allowed this culture to remain functional and thrive in a place that seems almost uninhabitable, with harsh extremes of temperature and scarce water supplies. To think of the ceremonies that took place in these sacred locations, the generations of children and adults who gathered here to learn the most important lessons that the older generation wanted to pass on, was a profoundly moving moment of connecting to the universal sense of what it means to be human, to be a parent, to belong to a chain of generations. The paintings and the stories they tell reveal not only lessons about how to find water and hunt successfully, they also transmit profound relational wisdom. As foreigners we are only told the basic elements of the culture, the stories told to children, and to the uninitiated. Yet these stories bespeak a culture that revered and cherished knowledge that had accumulated over thousands of uninterrupted generations, fostered connectedness with the family and the tribe, accountability for one’s own actions, and methods for reparation and restitution after an interpersonal transgression. When someone wronged another, we are told, they were expected to “come down and talk about it”. And they were offered three chances of doing so, before sanctions by the elders had to be mobilized. The Aboriginal people valued peaceful cooperation with neighboring tribes. Everyone, we were told, learned the language of their own tribe and also that of the neighboring ones, whom they might have encountered in their nomadic way of life. The value of connection and respect for nature was paramount, as Aborigines view themselves as the guardians of the land, entrusted with the obligation to care for it and leave it in good condition for future generations. In many ways, this ancient culture, so remote, isolated and “primitive” has captured the essence of highly evolved values which our own society is struggling to uphold, such as the need to be responsible, accountable and connected to others, as well as to care about the natural environment and future generations. To see it marvelously painted on the walls of a cave 26,000 years old is a unique encounter with what is most profoundly, universally and inspirationally human.

                Irit Felsen

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

REMINDER: TODAY: I Will Be Presenting A Workshop Entitled “Addressing Intimacy and Sexuality in Couple Therapy”, June 15/2017 in Brooklyn

On June 15, I will presenting a full-day workshop entitled

Addressing Intimacy and Sexuality in Couple Therapy: Expanding our Approaches for Reconnecting & Revitalizing Relationships

The workshop is sponsored by the OHEL Institute for Training, and will be held at the Kingsway Jewish Center in Brooklyn, NY.

This advanced full-day workshop for mental health professionals will provide clinicians with valuable insights and strategies for helping couples reconnect and revitalize their relationships. The presentation will address issues related to couple intimacy and sexuality, including sexual dysfunction, asexual marriages, sexual addiction, and infidelity. The emphasis will be on a flexible and creative approach to different couples and the various challenges they face.

Space for the workshop limited, and advance registration is required. More information about the workshop, and the registration instructions, can be found at this link.

Irit Felsen

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Survivor of the Pulse Nightclub Shooting Shares His Pain: What Does It Mean To Be A Survivor?

Today, June 12th, marks the one year anniversary of the horrific shooting in the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Brandon J. Wolf survived the Pulse attack. He was even lucky enough to survive it without any physical injury. Yet Brandon poignantly shares what an ordeal has been set in motion by these moments of staring death in the face, and by the realization that his friends did not survive. Survivors struggle with the intrusive memories, the sights, the smells, the shouts they heard, and with mortifying emotions, including “survivors guilt”, however irrational, that they experience in the wake of their ordeal and in relation to the death of loved ones. The invisible wounds of trauma can persist for a very long time, and the struggle for survival takes place every day and every night in the life of people like Brandon. Despite and because of his ordeal, only weeks after the attack, Brandon J. Wolf and his friends launched The Dru Project, a nonprofit organization that sponsors Gay-Straight Alliances in public schools and helps send future leaders to college, and in August of 2016, Brandon joined the board of advisers for a political action committee dedicated to ending gun violence. Some people find the strength to turn their pain into a force that mobilizes them to do something to prevent others from suffering the same tragedies, to improve the world. This phenomenon has been termed in the literature “Post Traumatic Growth” and was expressed in Brandon’s words: “I wanted to do something to make the world a better place, and to use my own story of survival to inspire unity and courage”.

You can read more about Brandon’s story at
http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/11/opinions/what-survival-means-wolf-opinion/index.html.

           Irit Felsen

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment