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Felsen Leads International Seminar

Dr. Irit FelsenDr. Irit Felsen, adjunct professor at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, has a particular interest in survivors of trauma and in topics related to post-traumatic reactions, resilience, and intergenerational transmission of effects related to parental trauma. Felsen’s papers have been published in the International Handbook of Multigenerational Legacies of Trauma, the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, the American Journal of Psychiatry, the International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology (now Journal of Psychoanalysis, Self and Context) and Psychoanalytic Psychology.

What follows is an account of leading a seminar on intergenerational transmission of Holocaust trauma at the Weiss-Livnat International Center for Holocaust Research and Education from March 3 - 5, 2019, at the University of Haifa, Israel.

In March, our students participated in a three-day psychology seminar on the subject of Intergenerational Transmission of Holocaust Trauma among second- and third-generation Holocaust survivors. The workshop touched on the lively debate which is taking place among psychologists and researchers as to whether intergenerational transmission of Holocaust trauma exists. On the one hand of the spectrum, researchers and practitioners find high levels of resilience among the second generation with no other differing traits demonstrated by offspring of parents who did not go through the Holocaust, while on the other end of the spectrum, researchers claim to find distinct effects of trauma in second-generation Holocaust survivors. We wanted our students to learn more about the debate from the researchers themselves. The seminar was hosted by Clinical Psychologist and Weiss-Livnat Professor Hadas Wiseman and Dr. Irit Felsen, a clinical psychologist and trauma specialist and adjunct professor at Yeshiva University's Ferkauf School of Psychology. Also invited to present were Prof. Avi Sagi-Schwartz; Prof. Amit Shrira and others. The talks were followed by relevant documentaries and discussions with their creators and lively discussions that confronted this fascinating issue.