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Children of Holocaust Survivors React Differently to Trauma

Update Date: Oct 30, 2013 10:51 AM EDT

Physical as well as psychological trauma is considered unequivocally damaging by modern medicine. However trauma can also have different psychological benefits and the fact is driving the interests of the researcher at Tel Aviv University.

In 2011, researchers from TAU’s Bob Shapell School of Social Work concluded that children of Holocaust-survivor parents are comparatively less likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder in the presence of their own traumas.

“Post-traumatic growth can be defined as a workable coping mechanism, a way of making and finding meaning involved in the building of a more positive self-image and the perception of personal strength,” said junior investigator Dr. Sharon Dekel in a press release.

“We were interested in studying the effect of the Holocaust on the second generation’s propensity for this kind of growth. If we can identify verifiably positive implications of trauma, we will be able to incorporate them into treatment and teach people how to grow after terrible experiences,” she added.

Since the very beginning, only the negative implications of the trauma has been focused upon and the burden is passed to the generation. However there are growing number of evidences which suggest that trauma can also have positive impacts.

Researchers in their previous studies fount that veterans of Israel’s Yom Kippur war were less prone to be affected by post-traumatic stress disorder.

One of the proposed explanation is that second generation Holocaust survivors grew up constantly being exposed to their parents’ trauma. The made the war less stressful for them which as a result lessened their post-traumatic growth. This is understood as the result of struggle with trauma.

The study is published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

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