Holocaust survivors hospitalized for life: The Israeli experience

Pnina Terno, Yoram Barak*, Jack Hadjez, Avner Elizur, Henry Szor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The Holocaust was the most traumatic experience to occur in the 20th century. The present study aims to assess elderly Holocaust survivors in a long-stay psychiatric setting. Data concerning hospitalized survivors were gathered from medical records, repeated interviews (Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III [SCID]) with patients, and family interviews. Subjects were all inpatients at Israel's largest psychiatric hospital, Abarbanel Mental Health Center. Patients hospitalized in the same setting who did not undergo the Holocaust were the comparison group. Of the center's 670 beds, 74 (11%) are designated for psychogeriatric patients. Forty-four (59.5%) patients in the psychogeriatric section are Holocaust survivors. There were 41 women and three men in our series. Mean age of the group was 76.2 years (range, 54 to 92). The most frequent diagnosis was schizophrenia (22 of 44). Nearly 30% had been hospitalized chronically since the Holocaust. Mean current hospitalization time was 11.2 years (range, 1 to 45). The frequent diagnosis in the comparison group was also schizophrenia (20 of 30), but indexes of chronicity were more favorable. The severity and the chronic, deteriorating course of illness in this subgroup of survivors may be due to the massive life-long psychologic disintegration imposed by the Holocaust.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-367
Number of pages4
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1998


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