Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Individual Memory for Identity Construction

Part of aging or growing old is keeping the balance between loss and gain.

Losses are an integral part of growing old. Spouses, partners, friends and acquaintances fall ill, some die. Loneliness is a frequent component in old age.

Gain in growing old under normal circumstances, is looking back to ones youth and achievement in earlier periods for formulating self-esteem and constructing present day identity.

Survivors looking back upon their childhood are confronted with a childhood or youth disrupted by the Nazi regime, deprivation, war, Ghetto, camps and multiple deaths.

Encountering losses was the order of the day. Extended and close family, were cruelly pulled apart during the Shoa. Loneliness hit the survivor in the face and throughout their life became a constant companion. Many old people are sole survivors.

While growing old one has to use individual memory for identity construction.

In order to construct “Present Day Identity” one leans on previous identity building blocks. Short- term memory is veining, but long-term memory is in tact.

Survivors, when looking back, find that the losses of aging are compounded by many previous losses during their childhood, caused by the Shoa.

For aging survivors, some of whom were mere children during the Shoa, the void of a destroyed childhood and early adolescence is like a deep abyss that will never be bridged. So for the aging survivor, loneliness becomes even more burdensome.

Aging survivors struggle to construct their self-esteem and present day identity, at the same time they should remember that they can look back to their own individual memory, to their immigration, constructing an entirely new way of life, many challenges that they had to cope with and succceeded . There is much that they can be proud of.

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