From Psychologists to Rabbis

rethinking the Holocaust


by Nathalie Zajde



The contemporary Jewish world, namely the one which bases itself on concepts from the Torah in order to comprehend itself and events, has taken a minimal interest in the Holocaust. The few interpretations it has put forward are often old – many dating from the period of the Holocaust, with few innovations – and they have little interest for contemporary Jewish scholars, if one looks at the latter’s abundant output. On their side, psychiatry, psychology and even psycho-analysis have, for a long time, taken an interest in the Holocaust and in the internees of concentration camps – the most famous achievement being the identification of the concentration camp survivor syndrome at the end of the 1950s. But neither this famous syndrome, nor practically any other books, manuals, or articles dealing with Holocaust survivors mention the Jewish identity of the patients in a pertinent scientific manner. Why seek to fill these gaps on either side? Why deem it necessary to connect the psychological disciplines with the world of Jewish thought? The author, in charge, at the Centre Georges Devereux at the University of Paris 8, of clinical research psychotherapy tools for Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors, analyzes the reasons behind these issues and puts forward suggestions.

to the full text —>



Nathalie Zajde

Nathalie Zadje is a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Paris 8 Saint-Denis. She is in charge of research and clinical studies at the Centre Georges Devereux and was a visiting researcher at the Centre de recherche français à Jerusalem (2007-2009). An expert in psychic trauma, she developed in France the first clinical research tools for survivors and descendants of Holocaust victims in 1990. She has authored two standard reference works: “Enfants de survivants” (1993), “Guérir de la Shoah” (2005) published by Odile Jacob. In the course of her stay, in 2003-2004, in the region of the Great Lakes (Burundi and Rwanda), she established and operated a university research center on the clinical psychology of trauma at the University of Burundi in Bujumbura. In November 2005, she established, with Dr. Ulman, at Beer Yaacov psychiatric hospital (south Tel Aviv), an ethno-psychiatric clinic for patients of Ethiopian origin – presently supported by the Israeli government in the framework of a research program. Following the massacres of September 28, 2009 in Guinea, she established and facilitated, in Conakry, a psycho-social unit specializing in the treatment of survivors and female victims of rape.

Her main research themes are: ethno-psychiatry; mass and individual trauma (genocide, war, natural catastrophes, domestic violence); psychotherapeutic tools; treatment for social and cultural minorities; psycho-politics.


Texte original : "Des psy aux rabbins – pour une pensée de la Shoah"


Traduction en anglais de Helga Abraham

Bulletin du Centre de recherche français de Jérusalem [En ligne], 20 | 2009, mis en ligne le 10 mars 2010,