Etymology
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survivor (n.)

early 15c. in the legal sense of "one who outlives another," agent noun from survive. Meaning "one who has a knack for pulling through adversity" is attested from 1971. Survivor syndrome as a name for the feeling of guilt in some who have lived through a traumatic event in which others died is recorded by 1968.

[I]t may have been wrong to say that after Auschwitz you could no longer write poems. But it is not wrong to raise the less cultural question whether after Auschwitz you can go on living—especially whether one who escaped by accident, one who by rights should have been killed, may go on living. His mere survival calls for the coldness, the basic principle of bourgeois subjectivity, without which there could have been no Auschwitz; this is the drastic guilt of him who was spared. By way of atonement he will be plagued by dreams such as that he is no longer living at all. [Theodor Adorno, "Negative Dialectics," 1966]

updated on September 15, 2020

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