Posted on April 26, 2012 by Dr.Milgraum
For some, immigration truly is a matter of life or death…
Psychologist Michael Milgraum just published a novel describing the multigenerational effects of the Holocaust. During an average work day, he can be found in his office listening to a client tell him about vicious torture, squalid conditions and degrading treatment the client received during his incarceration. The female clients discuss the additional trauma of having been raped in a similar setting. The only crime these clients did was to have a different ethnicity, religion or political opinion from the government in power.
But these are not victims of wartime Nazi atrocities. Milgraum conducts psychological evaluations on immigrants who are seeking asylum from persecution in their home countries.
“Most of these evaluations are of people from Africa,” says Milgraum, “particularly Ethiopia, because the Greater Washington, DC area [where Milgraum works] contains one of the main Ethiopian communities in the United States. The record of political oppression, intolerance of free speech and ethnic-based persecution is horrendous in Ethiopia. Those who speak out against the government are jailed multiple times on trumped-up charges, beaten during harsh interrogations, and held in unsanitary and crowded conditions.”
Milgraum listens to these immigrants’ stories, examines their psychological profile and provides reports to immigration courts about his findings. He often is required to testify about his conclusions as well. Almost all of these clients have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, which can involve flashbacks of the prior abuse, panic attacks, social withdrawal, insomnia, and a host of other symptoms.
“What’s so ironic,” says Milgraum, “is that both in my personal and professional life I can’t seem to get away from man’s inhumanity to man and dealing with the aftermath. I am a child of a Holocaust survivor. That’s why I wrote a book about the whole Holocaust experience. Now I see clients who are victims of hatred and the abuses of governmental power. We children of survivors just seem to be drawn back to trauma in one way or another.”
Milgraum goes on to explain that children of survivors frequently feel a mission to make the world a better place and to alleviate suffering. This mission leads the second generation to work with people who have been hurt or are in trouble. Milgraum says, “Many in the second generation became psychotherapists, which, I think, represents an unconscious wish to alleviate our parents’ posttraumatic stress.”
About Dr. Michael Milgraum
A psychologist, lawyer, writer, husband and father, Dr. Michael Milgraum has his own practice in Silver Spring, MD. In addition to conducting psychological evaluations, Milgraum sees patients in individual and group therapy. Never Forget My Soul is his first novel and is available in bookstores and online (in print and eBook format). See http://www.doctormmsolutions.com/blog/ for Milgraum’s essays about the Holocaust, psychology and spirituality.
Copyright © Apr. 27, 2012, Michael Milgraum. All rights reserved.