The Schmooze

Boris Cyrulnik and the Art of Creative Disobedience

Born in 1937, the French neuropsychiatrist Boris Cyrulnik has long been a media darling for his insights into such varied subjects as workplace violence, the wonders of nature, and scientific/technological progress in general. Although Cyrulnik’s public advice is sometimes leavened with lighthearted whimsy, his utterly serious understanding of the importance of psychological resilience, or surviving life’s traumas, has been his most essential contribution.

Now, an astonishing 2009 memoir from Les éditions l’Esprit du Temps, newly reprinted by Les Éditions Odile Jacob, explains the source of Cyrulnik’s insights.

“I Remember…” (“Je me souviens…”), echoing the title of a renowned work by French Jewish author Georges Perec, details how Cyrulnik’s Polish Jewish parents were deported to Auschwitz. Placed in a series of foster homes where he concealed his Judaism, Cyrulnik was finally caught in a 1944 roundup of Jews in Bordeaux, but managed to escape by hiding in the toilets of a synagogue where the prisoners were held before being shipped off to their deaths.

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Boris Cyrulnik and the Art of Creative Disobedience

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