Qualitative research with the second generation : the effects of the Holocaust on the adult children of survivors / by Rochelle Melotek
Includes bibliographical references (p. 174-189)
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Electronic version from ProQuest
During the 1950s many Holocaust survivors were presented as having all suffered a clearly defined concentration camp survivor syndrome. It has continued to be assumed that a trauma as atrocious as the Holocaust must have had pathological aftereffects not only on the survivors, but also on their offspring. Many documented quantitative studies support these assumptions, which provided a constricted picture of the so-called second generation to have negative effects parallel to those of their parents. Most of these clinical and empirical observations had focused on the individual's psychopathology based on the samples of adolescents and young adults. Only some recent studies have failed to confirm these outcomes. Rather, there are indications of intergenerational effects shown as strengths and vulnerabilities in various life domains. One aim of this study was to create a differentiated picture of aftereffects, postulated as positive traits. This dissertation was among the few qualitative studies that targeted non-clinical second generation who are currently middle-aged adults. Interviews paid attention to the special resources and coping abilities that six adult children with diverse family backgrounds perceived themselves to have. The only criterion of participants was that both of their parents were interned in Nazi concentration camps. This research was grounded on the family therapy perspective based on the premise that individuals do not live in isolation rather are connected to living systems. Systems theory challenged the more traditional intrapsychic studies by inquiring about familial and social interactions to have provided a holistic picture of the interviewee concerning this study. Interviews provided thematic material to the various long-term aftereffects of trauma, which were manifested as difficulties and strengths while the survivors and their children succeeded in rebuilding their lives. Equally important were the unique coping skills and prosocial aspects among the second generation of survivors. Recommendations are provided for future research on the process of transmission of relationship trauma between the generations, conditions that contributed to human resilience, and other intergenerational effects. As well, conclusions may benefit other individuals concerned with manmade catastrophic trauma and survivor syndromes.
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