survivor guilt

noun Psychiatry.
feelings of guilt for having survived a catastrophe in which others died.


Origin:
1970–75

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Cultural Dictionary

survivor guilt definition


A deep sense of guilt, combined often with feelings of numbness and loss of interest in life, felt by those who have survived some catastrophe. It was first noticed among survivors of the Holocaust. Survivors often feel that they did not do enough to save those who died or that they are unworthy relative to the perished.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
The underlying theme of the grandfather s survivor guilt brings additional clarity to this atrocious historical period.
Survivor guilt may result when one individual has suffered comparatively less than others.
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