The Psychological Effects of Starvation in the Holocaust: The Dehumanization and Deterioration of its Victims
My paper exposes the inherent link between the intense starvation implemented by the Nazi regime in concentration camps during the Holocaust and the psychological state of the victims of the camp system. Explored in this essay are the deteriorative and dehumanizing effects that starvation played on the mind of the camp prisoner. In this paper, I explore the widespread and intense malnutrition among the prisoners that led to cognitive decay such as comprehension complications and loss of concentration. I also examine the cognitive and psychological processes that led to acts of desperation, such as cannibalism, as well as the specifically psychological effects of starvation, including depression, anxiety, apathy or loss of motivation, and feelings of lessening self-worth. I discuss starvation's role in the Nazi goal of mass extermination and its place in the camp structure, and I analyze the complications that starvation places upon the formation and maintenance of prisoner relationships. A close study of this method of Nazi dehumanization directly exposes the link between the physical and psychological factors of the concentration camp system and the connection to the lack of resistance and general sense of submission among the prisoners. Throughout my analysis I often reference Doctor Ancel Keys' experiment with men who volunteered to participate in controlled starvation at the University of Minnesota Memorial Football Stadium in 1944. By applylng the information obtained from this experiment on the effects of starvation to my study on starvation's psychological implications in the Holocaust, the extremity and severity of starvation's toll on human life is recognizable.
"The Psychological Effects of Starvation in the Holocaust: The Dehumanization and Deterioration of its Victims,"
Augsburg Honors Review: Vol. 7, Article 5.
Available at: https://idun.augsburg.edu/honors_review/vol7/iss1/5