Intergenerational transmission of trauma in Holocaust survivors and their offspring / by Ilana M. Breslau.
This study examined differences in psychological distress, posttraumatic symptoms, and worldview of Holocaust survivor and control parent-child dyads. In all, 70 control pairs and 67 Holocaust pairs comprised the final sample. Instruments administered included a demographic questionnaire designed by the investigator; the Brief Symptom Inventory; the World Assumptions Scale; and modified versions of the Bonnie Green Trauma History Questionnaire and the Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale. Analyses indicated that Holocaust survivors displayed significantly more PTSD symptoms and a less benevolent view of the world than did controls. However, survivors did not significantly differ from controls with regard to overall psychiatric symptoms, sense of meaningfulness in the world, or perception of the self as worthy. Furthermore, contrary to published research and conventional wisdom in the media, there were no significant differences between offspring and controls on any of the variables under investigation. Findings do not confirm the prevailing assumption that negative effects of Holocaust-related trauma extend to the next generation. Implications for prospective research are discussed, including the use of biographical and narrative analysis to identify “softer” theoretical constructs and evaluation of factors that encourage adaptability, health, and optimism in survivors of trauma and their offspring.
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