Coping With Loss, Mechanisms Of The Human Mind

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Coping with Loss; Mechanisms of the Human Mind When one loses someone or something valuable to them, the grief can be intense. But what happens when what they lose is actually a piece of them? Novels depicting a witness account of The Holocaust (1941 - 1945) paint a picture of the violence and moral anguish, which is accompanied by a loss to the protagonist. The plot shows a process of events that ultimately leads to death and devastation. Both protagonists in Elie Wiesel’s Night and Wladyslaw Szpilman’s The Pianist gradually fall into the abyss of inhumane behaviour. Post Holocaust, they embark on a new life free from social restraints and become either unmindful or compliant to the losses they faced on their journey. Elie and Wladyslaw…show more content…
From then on, I had no other name” (Wiesel 42). The minorities in the concentration camps are no longer individuals, but are dehumanized into empty shells of themselves. The longer they remain in camps, the more they are reduced to a mere physical presence, losing their selves to their self-preservation instinct, and eventually becoming just hungry, nearly dead bodies. Counting the days until his liberation, Elie thought “[He] was nothing but a body. Perhaps even less: a famished stomach. The stomach alone was measuring time” (Wiesel 52). The loss of the right to be an individual confuses Elie, making him question whether he is too weak to survive, giving readers their first glimpse into his change in personality. From a loyal son who fought his father’s battles, he becomes the betrayer, allowing his father to be killed right in front of his eyes. This change in personality is derived from a Level 3 Defense Mechanism of the human mind known as Dissociation. This Defence Mechanism involves the victim modifying their own identity to avoid the suffering accompanied by a traumatic situation. Elie alters his characteristics to be better suited for survival, as seen in how he sacrificed his father, something he claimed he would never do, perhaps as a way of providing a reason for this sudden change in personality. By dissociating himself to overcome trauma, Elie loses his sense of his identity and what he was raised to believe in. Loss is understood as a natural part of
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