Surviving The Past

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Shaar Menashe patients benefit from alternative treatments like animal therapy to help them cope with life since the liberation of concentration camps

When his mother mistook him for an SS officer, Moti Mark knew something had to be done. Mark, then Israel's chief government psychiatrist, had taken time out from army reserve duty to visit his mother at Gea Hospital in 1996.

Since escaping from a wartime ghetto and making her way to Israel, Yochevet Mark had often been hospitalized for schizophrenia and depression but the doctors could never do anything for her. This time, her condition was so bad that she thought her son, in his army fatigues, was one of the uniformed Nazis who had terrorized her. "It gives me goose bumps to think of the awful look on her face," Mark says. He and a few other young psychiatrists soon discovered a disproportionate number of Holocaust survivors in Israel's mental hospitals, where they had been neglected for decades. The doctors have been campaigning to have survivors treated for Holocaust trauma, instead of psychotic conditions that have resisted treatment for five decades.

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