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  • The United States, which has been called the home of the persecuted and the dispossessed, has been since its founding an asylum for emotional orphans. For over three hundred years, refugees from political oppression, religious persecution, famine, poverty, and a rigid class system which limited educational and economic opportunities have been leaving their native villages and cities and coming to the United States in search of freedom and a better life.

  • Psychic orphanhood is not new ... What is new is putting a name to the feeling, articulating it as a concept. The popularization of psychoanalysis, together with an intensifying of an introspective point of view, was partly responsible for this change in the way people began to describe their early years. But equally important was a demographic factor. For hundreds of years, the word 'orphan' had been vividly associated with massive asylums and the pale, undersized inmates in institutional garb incarcerated within their walls. It was necessary for these associations to fade, as fade they did with the sharp decline in the number of orphans, before the word could be used as a simile: I felt like an orphan.

  • Emotional damage is never easy to measure, but mothers who are alive but psychically absent impose filial burdens which knot their children's feelings in a way biologic orphans are spared.

  • ... I wasn't the only orphan in Guatemala. There are many others, and it's not my grief alone, it's the grief of a whole people.

  • And if you cannot trust your father and mother to love you and accept you and protect you, then you are an orphan, although your parents are upstairs asleep in their bed.