Elderly Israeli holocaust survivors during the Persian Gulf War: A study of psychological distress

Zahava Solomon*, Edward Prager

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: The aim of the current study was to systematically assess the psychological effects of the Persian Gulf War on a nonclinical group of elderly Israeli civilians with and without a Holocaust background. Method: Sixty-one elderly Holocaust survivors and 131 elderly civilians without a Holocaust background completed questionnaires in their homes. Measures included sense of safety, symptoms of psychological distress, and levels of state and trait anxiety. Results: Findings indicate that Holocaust survivors perceived higher levels of danger and reported more symptoms of acute distress than comparison subjects. In addition, they displayed higher levels of both state and trait anxiety. Conclusions: Findings do not support the notion that prior experience with extreme stress has an inoculating effect that leads to greater resilience in dealing with other forms of stress. On the contrary, Holocaust experience was found to render the elderly more vulnerable rather than less. These findings of greater vulnerability among Holocaust survivors are of particular significance since they stem from a nonclinical group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1707-1710
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Volume149
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1992

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