Transgenerational transmission of depression, shame and guilt in Holocaust families : an examination of three generations / by Susan Weisz Jurkowitz
Includes bibliographical references (p. 236-259)
The purpose of the present study was to investigate the transgenerational transmission of depression, shame and guilt within a three-generation family of Holocaust survivors, children of survivors and grandchildren of survivors. First, the study investigated the transmission of these variables from Holocaust survivors to their offspring and to the offspring's children. Second, the study identified how two types of intrafamilial communication (open and problem) contribute to the transmission of depression, shame and guilt within the family unit. Finally, the study analyzed the effects of parental communication style, controlling for children's gender, lifestyle and social desirability. The 273 subjects consisted of 91 survivors, 91 children of survivors and 91 grandchildren of survivors. The subjects were recruited from synagogues and Jewish schools, agencies and community centers in Los Angeles. In addition, subjects from the East Coast were obtained by referrals. Five measures were utilized. The Parent-Adolescent Communications Scale (Olson, 1983) was used as a predictor measure of communication style. The Center for Epidemiological Studies Scale (CES-D) (Randloff, 1977) was administered to measure depression. The Internal Shame Scale (ISS)(Cook, 1987) was employed as a measure of internalized shame. The Buss and Durkee Guilt Scale (1956) was used to measure guilt. Finally, the Personal Feeling Questionnaire 2 (PFQ2) was utilized to measure, separately, shame and guilt. The study employed a correlational design, utilizing trend and hierarchical regression analyses to explore the transgenerational transmission of depression, shame and guilt across three generations. Transgenerational transmission of all three variables was observed across the three generations for all subjects and, separately, for females. For communication style, there was no openness of communication between survivors and the second generation on levels of depression, shame or guilt. There was an effect of problem communication, however, on the levels of these three variables. Openness of communication was observed between the second and third generation and was related to a decrease in depression, shame and guilt. However, there was no effect of problem communication on these three variables between the second and third generation. Finally, the results were discussed from the perspective of family systems theory.
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