Dr. Nanette Auerhahn had been notified that she has won the 2019 award by the Committee for the Elise M. Hayman Award for a paper that she co-authored with Dori Laub, M.D. The paper is titled “Probing the Minds of Nazi Perpetrators: The Use of Defensive Screens in Two Generations”. The award, carrying a $4000 prize, will be presented to Dr. Auerhahn at the Congress of the International Psychoanalytic Association to be held in London from July 24-27, 2019.
The paper, which explores defenses used by Nazi perpetrators, describes walled-off, dissociated states that allowed atrocities to be committed outside normal thought process by persons who had no particular character pathology. The study used Dr. Auerhahn’s own clinical material plus years of material accumulated by Dr. Dori Laub with whom she has worked for several decades, beginning while a doctoral student at Yale University. Dr. Laub died in June 2018, after which Dr. Auerhahn completed the paper. In their work with children of both perpetrators and survivors, both analysts were able to help their analysands integrate evidence of screened off atrocities into their narrative when they were recognized and interpreted.
An earlier version of this paper was presented by Drs. Laub and Auerhahn at a meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association in New York on February 14, 2018.