The aftermath of the Holocaust trauma across family generations : family environment, relationship environment and empathy of the third generation / by Amanda Gopen.
The potential aftereffects of the trauma of the Holocaust on third generation Holocaust survivors were investigated. Forty-two third generation Holocaust survivors were compared to 30 Jewish individuals of comparable age, who were not intimately connected to the Holocaust, on measures of family environment, relationship environment with a significant other, and empathy. Participants were recruited mainly from the 1996 March of the Living Alumni. It was hypothesized that the third generation Holocaust survivors group will report the perception of more empathy and conflict in their parental and partner relationships than the control group.Third generation Holocaust survivors reported significantly more uncritical acceptance of their fathers, believing that their regard for their father is stable and independent of interaction. Third generation Holocaust survivors also exhibited a marginally higher regard for their romantic partners.Post hoc analyses revealed differences between participants whose father only, mother only and both parents were second generation survivors. Participants whose father only were second generation survivors indicated significantly less family cohesion than participants whose mother only and both parents were children of Holocaust survivors. When describing their intimate relationships, participants whose father only were second generation survivors showed significantly less commitment and marginally less intimacy and uncritical acceptance of their partners. Additionally, this group qualitatively depicted their fathers as emotionally withdrawn, rigid, not highly empathic and authoritarian-like.In sum, while few differences were found between third generation Holocaust survivors and the control group, and evidence for the hypotheses was not found, participants whose father only were children of Holocaust survivors exhibited differences from the other groups. There appears to be something distinctive about having a father who is a child of Holocaust survivors that is different from having a mother or both parents who are children of Holocaust survivors that may warrant further exploration.
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