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‘Holocaust survivor trauma rare in 2nd generation’; If that is the case and they aren’t exhibiting Holocaust Trauma why make everyone else $uffer?

Contrary to public opinion and some academic reports, University of Haifa researchers maintain that the second generation of Holocaust survivors share their parents’ trauma from the Nazi era only in “special and extreme situations.”
After conducting studies for the past 20 years at the Israeli university and at Leiden University in the Netherlands, researchers have published their conclusions in the Journal of Loss and Trauma.
They found that there is no difference in the amount of psychological and physiological suffering in the second generation compared to their counterparts who are not the children of Holocaust survivors. The only group that do “inherit” trauma are those whose parents endured “extreme situations” during the Holocaust, wrote Prof. Avi Sagi-Schwartz of Haifa and Prof. Marinus Van-Isendoorn and Prof. Bakermans-Kranenburg in Holland.
Also participating was Dr. Ayala Friedman, who studied the subject as part of her doctoral work.
The team decided to look at the physiological situation of the second generation and not just psychotrauma because they thought that maybe they had been missing something, because psychological trauma is easier to measure, Sagi-Schwartz said.
Thus they measured differences in the production of cortisol by the body. This “stress hormone” is released in reaction to day-to-day stress to warn the body. The hormone is usually at a higher level in the morning and declines as the day turns into night. They studied 32 women survivors who lost both their parents in the Holocaust, and their daughters born in Israel. The control group that did not live during the Holocaust included 33 women who came on aliya a short time before the rise of Nazis and their daughters who were born in Israel.
Among the survivors, higher levels of cortisol were measured during routine days compared to that in women who had not gone through the Holocaust.
Survivors also were found to dissociate at least temporarily between certain traumatic experiences and other feelings of which they were aware. But the second generation showed no differences in cortisol levels or dissociation from their counterparts with no Holocaust experience.
The researchers did find high levels of cortisol in second-generation women if their mothers were found to have extremely high levels of dissociation.
Thus instead of generalizing about the second generation, the researchers said, or even about the third generation, “we must find the unusual groups who in certain conditions could have inherited traumas from the Holocaust, and then we can try to help them,” said Sagi-Schwartz.
Prof. Danny Brom – head of the Israel Psychotrauma Center of Jerusalem’s Herzog Hospital – told The Jerusalem Post that he agreed with the University of Haifa findings. MORE FROM JP


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