15 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts  02116

Telephone 617.266.0953   email


Join Us for a Special Open Members Seminar
Patricia Wright, MD, Chair



8:00 pm at 15 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston


You can kill us but you can't humiliate us
How do people survive with integrity
in the face of humiliation and terror?



Harold Bursztajn, MD; Geoffrey Brahmer, M.Div
Omar Sultan Haque, MD, M.Div; Anna Ornstein, MD


In the end, it was a lucky turn that saved the lives of Abraham and Miriam Bursztajn, only 2 of 877 survivors of the Lodz Ghetto during the Shoah/Holocaust (1939 - 1945). The path to that intersection with luck was paved with character, integrity, hope, resourcefulness, resilience, calculated risk-taking, trusting relationships, and the help of other courageous individuals who died along the way.

The Fecalists were "Dead People Walking" -- men, women and children whose jobs were to collect human excrement and trudge "like two-legged horses", pulling heavy unsealed wagons to transport it. Abraham Bursztajn refused the "honor" of becoming a Jewish policeman, which involved selecting fellow citizens for deportation, and was punished with the assignment to "shovel shit". Later he recalled his choice at the time: "Do I want to treat people as shit, or do I want to work with shit? That was my choice." When hope as to outcome was impossible, he substituted the option of choice for the option of hope. He faced hopelessness without denial or collaboration.

Geoffrey Brahmer, M Div will begin the evening with a historical introduction to the isolation of the Lodz Ghetto. Omar Sultan Haque, MD, M.Div will then discuss what we know and don't know from social psychology. Harold Bursztajn, MD will present lessons he learned from his parents' experience, followed by a discussion by Anna Ornstein, MD.


Learning Objectives

1. To use psychoanalytic perspectives to understand Shoah survival narratives of survival with integrity.
2. To learn what Shoah narratives of survival with integrity have to offer social psychology.
3. To learn what understanding Shoah narratives of survival with integrity have to offer psychoanalysis.



1. Bursztajn, H.J. Reflections on my father's experience with doctors during the Shoah (1939-1945). J Clinical Ethics. 1996;7:100-102.
2. Bryks, Rachmil. A Cat in the Ghetto -- Four Novelettes. Translated from the original Yiddish by Dr. S. Morris Engel. Introduction by Prof. Sol Liptzin, preface by Prof. Irving Howe. Bloch Publishing Company, NY, 1959.
3. Mostowicz, Arnold. With a Yellow Star and a Red Cross: A Doctor in the Lódz Ghetto. London: Vallentine, Mitchell, 2005. (DS 135 .P63 M67813 2005)
4. Modell, A. H. (1990). Other times, other realities: Toward a theory of psychoanalytic treatment. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
5. Akhtar, S. (1995) A Third Individuation: Immigration, Identity and the Psychoanalytic Process. JAPA 43: 1051 - 1084.



Harold Bursztajn, MD is cofounder of the HMS Program in Psychiatry and the Law at BIDMC. He practices psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, and psychoanalysis in Cambridge, MA.

Geoffrey Brahmer, M.Div has a special interest in the history of the Shoah's ghettos. He is the Educational Coordinator, Plastic Surgery and Hand Surgery at BIDMC.

Omar Sultan Haque, MD, M.Div teaches in the Psychology and Social Relations Department at Harvard University. He is completing a book for Harvard University Press on redefining brain death.

Anna Ornstein, MD is a Lecturer in Psychiatry, HMS; Supervising Analyst, BPSI; Professor Emerita of Child Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati; author of numerous articles and a memoir My mother's eyes: Holocaust memories of a young girl. 


Continuing Education:

Physicians: This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and Policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Psychoanalytic Association and the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute.  The American Psychoanalytic Association is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians and takes responsibility for the content, quality, and scientific integrity of this CME activity. The American Psychoanalytic Association designates this educational activity for a maximum of 1.5 hours in category 1 credit towards the AMA Physician's Recognition Award.  Each physician should claim only those hours of credit that he/she actually spent in the educational activity. IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION FOR ALL LEARNERS: None of the planners and presenters of this CME program have any financial relationships to disclose.  Psychologists The Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  The Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute maintains responsibility for this program and its content.   This program fulfills the requirements for 1.5 hours of CE.   Social Workers Please contact the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute's Administrative Office at 617/266-0953 or for more information.

Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, Inc.
15 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA  02116

Telephone 617.266.0953