Exploring the effects of recalled exposure to Holocaust information on the psychological functioning of young adult Germans / by Caryn Del Core Schmidt.
This study examined the impact of recalled exposure to information about the Holocaust on the psychological functioning of young adult Germans. Lawrence Josephs' Frequency of Superego Anxiety Measure, Peter Fonagy's Reflective Functioning Scale, and the newly developed Recalled Exposure to Holocaust Information Measure were applied to archival transcripts of semi-structured interviews with 25 German subjects between the ages of 19 and 34. Subjects had a mean age of 23 and represented second and third generation post World War II young adult Germans. All subjects were university students in Germany at the time of data collection, which was seven months after the Berlin Wall had been opened. The interviews, which were recorded, transcribed verbatim and translated into English, focused on subjects' memories of early childhood, and their thoughts and feelings about the war and Holocaust years. Additionally, subjects completed a questionnaire designed to provide demographic information, which included a modified version of T. W. Adorno's F-Scale, a measure of authoritarianism. The main premise of this study was that a socio-historical event such as the Holocaust would have a powerful impact on the emotional functioning of contemporary young adult Germans. As such, the overarching prediction was that subjects with increased recalled exposure to information about the Holocaust would demonstrate increased psychological functioning in the three areas measured (superego anxiety, reflective functioning and authoritarianism). The analysis of the data revealed two statistically significant relationships. First, a strong positive relationship between degree of recalled exposure to information about the Holocaust and level of reflective functioning was found. Second, a relationship between recalled exposure to information about the Holocaust and superego anxiety, specifically ‘criticism of other’ was found. Two findings neared statistical significance. The first neared a negative correlation between authoritarianism and ‘criticism of other.’ The second neared a positive relationship between reflective functioning and increased ‘criticism of self.’
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