"Angel From Agony"
by Al Siebert, PhD
THRIVEnet Story of the Month - July, 1996
Edith Eva Eger is widely known for being an excellent psychologist. Executives, movie stars, politicians, and military commanders seek her help when they need emotional help.
Edie Eger is an Auschwitz survivor. She was sent to the death camp at age 16. All of her family members were killed, but the Nazi officers decided to keep her alive because she was a ballerina. They had her dance for them.
Her physical survival is a miracle. When the allied forces entered the camp, Edie had a broken back and weighed only 40 pounds.
Her emotional survival is a story of incredible courage. For many years she suppressed her hatred for the Nazis and her guilt about living while others died. Her emotional recovery took a long time. She got married, moved to the United States, had three children, and earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and started her practice.
When I interviewed her she told me, "What makes me effective I didn't learn in my psychology program. Everything I know I learned from Auschwitz."
"I can't erase the experience," she said, "but I can integrate it, come to terms with it. To overcome my experience in Auschwitz I had to learn to become compassionate and forgiving. You must be strong to forgive. Forgiveness is not condoning or excusing. Forgiveness has nothing to do with justice. Forgiving is a selfish act to free yourself from being controlled by your past."
"I remember feeling sorry for the German officers and soldiers as I watched them flee through the open camp gates. I remember thinking to myself, 'I will have painful memories of what happened, but they will always have to live with memories of what they did.' I lost my family in Auschwitz. It was very traumatic. But I have integrated the experience, and I'm the person I am because of it."
Edith is a woman who radiates love and warmth to everyone. She known for her quiet, healing presence and her deep understanding of people going through extreme emotional crises.
September 2004: Visit www.DrEEE.com - Edith Eva Eger, PhD's website.