The socialization of children of concentration camp survivors / by Anna Kolodner.
This study presents a social approach to understanding the apparent similarities among children of concentration camp survivors as adults. It looks at socialization as the vehicle by which these commonalities are transmitted, rather than at individual psychological phenomena. This research is qualitative, using life history accounts obtained through intensive interviews, to understand the process of socialization and its effects among a non-clinical sample of children of survivors. It integrates theories from a variety of sources including the literature on socialization, American Jewry, disasters, and survivors of concentration camps and their families. This study relies heavily on the perspective of verstehen and utilizes illustrative quotations wherever possible to enhance the meaning of analytical categories, and lend credence to the subjective evaluations of respondents. The results show that when parents experience great trauma, its impact is transmitted to their children through the socialization process. This impact is measured through behavior, values, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings. In the case of the Holocaust, the major impact on children of survivors as adults is a contradiction between their public and private lives. This effect of the socialization process is primarily due to the intense control parents have over their children's early socialization experiences and its prolonged influence into the child's adulthood. In fact, it is so powerful that it transcends those social dimensions which traditionally explain behavioral differences among people. Finally, this study examines the argument in the psychological literature for psychopathology among children of survivors from the perspective of how these children were socialized. We conclude that the similarities among children of survivors as adults represent a common adaptive "cultural" response, rather than individual pathology. Finally, this study draws further on sociological perspectives and theories to suggest additional and alternative approaches to studying children of concentration camp survivors as a group.
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