Survivor Guilt Revisited by: Geraldine Piorkowski

The concept of survivor guilt has been around for decades but has taken on particular relevance with the pandemic and, even more recently, the war in Ukraine.R.J. Lifton, in discussing the reactions of the survivors of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima during the Second World War, defined a survivor as “one who has come into contact with death in some bodily or psychic fashion and has himself remained alive.For Lifton, survivors’ reactions could be categorized under several general themes. Among the most relevant currently are psychic numbing (diminished capacity to feel), heightened imagery about death, including fear of contagion, struggles to formulate the meaning of life, and survivor guilt.