Expressions of Holocaust Experience and Their Relationship to Mental Symptoms and Physical Morbidity among Holocaust Survivor Patients

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study explores current expressions of past trauma among Holocaust survivors. Medical records and extensive interviews were analyzed for 38 Holocaust survivors who were hospitalized and/or under ambulatory care. The sample consisted of 55% women and 45% men whose mean age was 72 (SD = 9.2). Expressions of Holocaust experience yielded two factors: Holocaust-as-Present (e.g., feeling the Holocaust experience as continuing, Holocaust-related somatization) and Holocaust-as-Past (e.g., avoiding preoccupation with traumatic memories, feeling unduly stigmatized as a survivor). The results indicate that mental symptoms and the number of medical diagnoses are positively correlated with Holocaust-as-Present but negatively correlated with Holocaust-as-Past. However, scoring high on Holocaust-as-Past relates to a higher danger to life as a result of significant morbidity. The findings suggest two differential modes of either remaining enmeshed in the traumatic experience or attempting to contain the sequelae of the trauma. These modes differ in their implications for mental and physical health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-134
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2002

Keywords

  • Holocaust survivors
  • Mental health
  • Physical morbidity
  • Trauma

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Expressions of Holocaust Experience and Their Relationship to Mental Symptoms and Physical Morbidity among Holocaust Survivor Patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this