Low levels of posttraumatic stress symptoms and psychiatric symptomatology among third-generation Holocaust survivors whose fathers were war veterans

Gadi Zerach, Zahava Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

There is an ongoing debate regarding the intergenerational transmission of Holocaust trauma to the third generation (TGH). However, due to the rareness of this population, there are no studies that have examined TGH individuals whose fathers were also victims of war-related trauma and captivity. This prospective study aimed to assess the role of parents' Holocaust background, fathers' posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), and adult offspring's anxiety sensitivity (AS) in adult offspring's PTSS and psychiatric symptomatology. A sample of 123 Israeli father-child dyads (42 TGH and 71 non-TGH), that included 80 former prisoners of war (ex-POWs) dyads and a comparison group of 44 veteran dyads, completed AS, PTSS and psychiatric symptomatology self-report measures. Fathers were assessed 17 years following the Yom Kippur War (T1: 2008) while offspring took part in T2 (2013-2014). Surprisingly, results show that TGH participants reported lower levels of PTSS and psychiatric symptomatology than non-TGH participants, regardless of their fathers' captivity status. Interestingly, a moderated mediation analysis indicated that offspring's AS mediated the association between Holocaust background and participants' PTSS and psychiatric symptomatology, only among ex-POWs' offspring. This study provides evidence for relatively lower levels of PTSS and psychiatric symptomatology among TGH individuals whose fathers were war veterans. Ex-POWs' adult offspring who are grandchildren of Holocaust survivors reported lower levels of AS that was related to lower levels of PTSS and psychiatric symptomatology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-33
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Volume73
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2016

Keywords

  • Anxiety sensitivity
  • Captivity
  • Holocaust
  • PTSS
  • Secondary traumatization
  • Third generation

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