Bronfenbrenners Theory and Robert Krell Case Study

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Robert Krell was born on 5 August 1940 in Hague, Netherlands. Krell (2007) opines that he stayed three years in hiding before returning to his parents who had also been lucky to survive the horrors of the Holocaust. Other survivors passed by his home and told the family of the incessant horrors they had experienced during the Holocaust. He illustrates his confusion at that time with the assertion, "What could a child say about his/her own experiences, is it the loss of child, the loss of adolescence, or fear and deprivation from family?" He recalls that his parents were reprimanded to move for "resettlement to the East"; failure to move would jeopardize their lives as they could be killed. They were forced to flee their house together with him in 1942. However, they did not end up in the same place as Krell was lucky to land at the home of Albert and Violet Munnik and their daughter Nora, who was 12 years at the time. The Munniks acted as a Good Samaritan (foster family) to Krell and protected him adequately.

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Krell (2007) affirms that he was lucky to unite with his parents who had also survived. He recounts that he was not aware of the fact that he was a Jew because he was still a child at time of the Holocaust. He joined a Catholic kindergarten after the war, where he interacted with other students. In 1951, Krell immigrated to Canada with his parents hence gaining more liberation. The First World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors Conference held in Jerusalem in 1981 was Krell's turning point as it gave him the opportunity to work with other survivors to date. This case appeared in the article My Journey as a Child Holocaust Survivor that was written by Robert Krell as he recalled his time during the Holocaust.




In this section, the Bronfenbrenner framework to Krell's case will be applied based on the details as described earlier in the paper. It is noteworthy that the analysis of the context will be done in line with the five systems of the Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory. The second stage will entail the analysis of the process whereas the third step will entail the description of the personal aspects derived from the case.


The Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory is also commonly referred to as the human ecology theory, and it entails the identification of five significant systems that influence the development of individuals through interactions. Bronfenbrenner (2009) asserts that this model applies directly to the development process of individuals and could be effectively used to apprehend both children and maturing adults in the community.

The microsystem is made up of psychological institutions and groups that have a direct and day-day interactions with the child during the development stages. These groups and institutions may include school, family, and peers. In tandem with the case, it is noteworthy that Krell lived in two significant microsystems where he had close interactions with members of his immediate environment. Krell, Suedfeld and Soriano (2004) reiterates that in the first half of 1942, he lived together with his parents in Hague, and it is assumed that he had close interactions with them. They must have tried to mould him before being ordered to move out of their house and report to what he refers to as the "resettlement to the East." In the same year, he lived with the Munniks,' which protected him from any harm. He specifically had closer interactions with Nora, the Munniks' daughter. After three years with the Munniks,' he was forced to leave and reunite with his parents. He had become addicted to Nora to the point that he did not want to leave the host family. However, his microsystem changed in 1945 as he reunited with his biological parents. He also joined a Catholic school kindergarten where he presumably interacted with other survivors of the Holocaust as they told their stories that led him to understanding that he was a Jew. His parents were ready to listen to some of the stories told by the Holocaust survivors in their own house.


The Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory highlights the view that mesosystems emanate from the interconnections that occur between different microsystems. For instance, this could involve the relationship between teachers and the child's family. The interactions between the microsystems are always direct and are revealed through clear communication channels. In Krell's case, his parents and the group of survivors that gathered at their home to tell stories about their survival and their identity as Jews could be considered as mesosytsems. These links are especially vital because Krell is involved in the listening process together with his parents, and has close associations with the survivors from the Catholic school that he joined in 1945. The two microsystems are linked directly, and such channels of communication help reveal vital elements that could have contributed to the inhumane massacre of the Jews. However, there were no changes in Krell's mesosystems even as he immigrated to Canada with his parents. Glassner and Krell (2006) opine that the strong relationships between his peer survivors and his family continued, and he perceived this relationship a crucial part of his life that had to be fulfilled by helping other individuals to recover from the trauma brought about by the Holocaust.


Exosystems refer to the larger social system that influence one's life during the development process. The exosystem is usually beyond the control of the developing person. Several elements of the exosystem were present in Krell's life as a child survivor of the Holocaust. Tudge (2008) agrees that one of the key elements of the exosystem that influenced his development as a child survivor of the Holocaust was the Canadian neighborhood. When he and his family immigrated to Canada in 1951, he affirms that he experienced a sense of freedom and rejuvenation because of the assumed close relationship with individuals from the neighborhood. This remark illustrates the influence of the neighborhood in changing his perception about humanity and the respect for human life. Initially, he had believed that death was the order of the day. Another vital element of the mesosystem was the American Psychiatric Association that played an instrumental role in the guiding and counselling process. Their support was crucial in alleviating the high levels of trauma that Krell and other child survivors had experienced during the inhuman killings in the form of the Holocaust. Such communication offered an opportunity for him to develop the passion of excelling in the field of counselling and treating individuals with similar problems that he had faced as a child survivor of the Holocaust. The International Community in the form of Ambassadors was also a vital element of the exosystem. The Rwandese Ambassador came in support of the Holocaust child survivors by offering a talk on the recovery of the brain after such heart-rending experiences. Mental recovery is the best thing that happened to Krell and all other child survivors of the Holocaust.

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According to Shaffer and Kipp (2013), the macrosystem entails the recognized social values of a given culture or country. It is a broad aspect that covers the beliefs and practices, lifestyles, customs, resources, and opportunities available in a particular culture or country. It tends to evolve over time and exerts unidirectional influence on all the other aspects of the Bronfenbrenner's model. The ethnic profiling in Holland is one of the key aspects of the mesosystem that influenced his development process. Individuals of the Jewish origin were profiled and killed mercilessly without care. Derwin (2012) reiterates that the characterization of Jews as unwanted individuals was traumatizing in the early years of Krell's development. He affirms that he did not know that he was a Jew in his earlier years until he was informed about the classifications that had occurred and contributed to the Holocaust. This point contrasts with his growth as a normal child because of the extensive traumas that accompanied all child survivors of the Holocaust. The second element of the macrosystem is the Canadian culture. It could be assumed that the Canadian culture was accommodative because it offered a warmer environment for Krell. He says that he felt relieved once he moved into Canada with his parents, and he was able to learn the language and culture easily. A close relationship with the Canadian culture could have played a vital role in his continued participation in recovery efforts for individuals affected by disasters such as wars and the Holocaust. The psychiatry world is also a key element of the macrosystem. He has a special and close relationship with the psychiatry world because of his previous position as a child survivor of the Holocaust.


Several processes are usually involved in the development of human beings. Hemmendinger and Krell (2000) affirm that the nature of the development process is usually affected by the relationship between the bio-psychological human organism and other factors within the environment including people, symbols, and objects. It is worth acknowledging that children are only able to grow older in instances where the proximal processes become extensive and complex. The early processes of Krell's development could be said to have been negative because he was mainly surrounded by war. He was separated from his parents at the age of two years; thus, it was difficult for him to grow up as a normal child due to the absence of the love of his parents. However, the foster family that lived with him for a period of three years offered a positive environment for his development process. He coped with the situation as he was able to grow up as a normal child with Nora as his elder sister. The effect of the Holocaust on the early developmental processes cannot be ignored because it traumatized him thus complicating his growht as a positive child. He says he could only smell death in his life. The immigration to Canada gave him a proper stage of growth because he came to realize the negative implications of the Holocaust. He became a counselor at the early stages of his growth. This feature helped in his normal growth as an individual who empathizes and socializes with other by staying positive.


The element of a person would be analyzed in tandem with dispositions, resources, and demand characteristics. In terms of disposition, Krell was a developmentally generative person in his growth process. For instance, he grew up as an individual with a strong memory from his childhood. Krell (2007) is of the opinion that a strong memory was crucial in ensuring that he remembers all the events that were happening at the time. However, these events tended to affect his brain because of the trauma. Additionally, Krell grew up as a passionate individual after his experiences and survival during the Holocaust. He emerged as a child psychiatrist and was always ready to help individuals affected by the Holocaust. His active role cannot be ignored either as he wanted to ensure that all individuals to return their positive perception of the world. In terms of resources, Krell had the survival mentality. At his early age as he lived with a foster family, he realized that there was danger, and he observed all the precautions that had been put in place. Moreover, he was endowed with intelligence that enabled him to guide others in conferences such as the First World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. The key demand characteristic that influenced his overall growth and emergence as a psychiatrist is his ethnic background as a Jew. He has in depth understanding of their problems and survival during the Holocaust.

In summary, there were significant changes in the microsystem and the macrosystem while the exosystem and the mesosystem tended to remain constant throughout Krell's life. Survival from the Holocaust tended to pave the way for the maturity and growth of Krell into a more responsible individual who is ready to help others into the future as a professional psychiatrist. The Bronfenbrenner analysis findings served to indicate the vital cultural changes that occurred in Krell's life. He moved from Holland, where Jews were discriminated, and moved to Canada where they were treated well. Another vital implication of the findings of the Bronfenbrenner's analysis findings is to highlight the effect of the surrounding factors on the developmental process. In my opinion, social norms and cultural beliefs have a significant impact on the development of people. People grow up with the existing beliefs and attitudes whether negative or positive ones, which implies that social policy, professional practice, and service delivery need to change and take into account the manner in which different individuals can be handled. Professional practice and service delivery would be required to offer supportive environments for development of various individuals. This perception is applicable to my own life, as well, as I become sensitive to different environments in which I have to live. I can understand how to deal with versatile environments settings. Krell had the opportunity to develop as a normal child because of his intelligence and survival tactics during the Holocaust. The role of organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association is also highlighted through the findings of the analysis.

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