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Inventing a Pathology of Catastrophe for Holocaust Survival [The Limits of Medical Knowledge and Historical Memory in France]
Michael Dorland

Available only as an ebook.

The Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry

2009 • 300 pp. 6 x 9"
Jewish Studies / Psychology & Psychiatry / Holocaust Studies

$7.99 Ebook, 978-1-58465-878-8

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“A] groundbreaking work . . . Dorland’s thesis is that the collective French consciousness, which included the medical practitioners who treated concentration camp survivors, was and still is pervasively tainted by anti-Semitism... [continued in Reviews below]”—Jerusalem Post

A powerful look at how French medical science apprehended and described Holocaust survival

In this extraordinary study, Michael Dorland explores sixty years of medical attempts by French doctors (mainly in the fields of neuropsychiatry and psychoanalysis) to describe the effects of concentration camp incarceration on Holocaust survivors.
Dorland begins with a discussion of the liberation of concentration camp survivors, their stay in deportation camps, and eventual return to France, analyzing the circulation of mainly medical (neuropsychiatric) knowledge, its struggles to establish a symptomology of camp effects, and its broadening out into connected medical fields such as psychoanalysis. He then turns specifically to the French medical doctors who studied Holocaust survivors, and he investigates somatic, psychological, and holistic conceptions of survivors as patients and human beings.
The final third of the book offers a comparative look at the “psy-science” approach to Holocaust survival beyond France, particularly in the United States and Israel. He illuminates the peculiar journey of a medical discourse that began in France but took on new forms elsewhere, eventually expanding into nonmedical fields to create the basis of the “traumato-culture” with which we are familiar today.
Embedding his analysis of different medical discourses in the sociopolitical history of France in the twentieth century, he also looks at the French Jewish Question as it affected French medicine, the effects of five years of Nazi Occupation, France’s enthusiastic collaboration, and the problems this would pose for postwar collective memory.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“[A] groundbreaking work . . . Dorland’s thesis is that the collective French consciousness, which included the medical practitioners who treated concentration camp survivors, was and still is pervasively tainted by anti-Semitism and an inability to come to terms with the collaboration of so many of their countrymen under the Vichy regime.”—Jerusalem Post

“The text is well written, scholarly, and authoritative. The book goes beyond the survivor to include the impact on families as well. Anyone interested in the psychological aspects of trauma will find this volume a worthwhile read.”—Jewish Book World

“[A]n engaging and unique exploration of how French doctors analyzed the impact of the concentration camps on Holocaust survivors. The author devoted ten years to writing this work, and the result is a nuanced combination of historical, cultural, political, sociological, and psychological approaches to the study of the Holocaust.” —Holocaust and Genocide Studies

“Michael Dorland has written an important and, in many ways, a strikingly original work that definitely ranks as superior scholarship. By choosing to examine how the figure of the Holocaust survivor has been studied, he has succeeded in uncovering new material and weaving this together with a critical review of a vast range of scholarship into a readable, yet subtle, and often eloquent, narrative.”—Toby Gelfand, Ph.D., Jason A. Hannah Professor of the History of Medicine, University of Ottawa

“Michael Dorland’s Cadaverland is the most important historical study dealing with the medical ramifications of the Holocaust. Focusing on the psychiatric and psychological literature dealing with the impact of the Shoah for the survivors and for their families, Dorland sketches the difficult, contradictory, often self-destructive struggle of psychological medicine with the horrors of the Shoah. Brilliantly written and ranging well beyond the confines of post-war France, this is a book that health care practitioners as well as all those dealing with trauma and its historical aftermath MUST read.”—Sander L. Gilman, Director, Program in Psychoanalysis, Emory University

MICHAEL DORLAND is a professor in the School of Communication, Carleton University, Ottawa.

Thu, 14 Mar 2019 13:08:16 -0500