Posttraumatic stress symptoms and fear of intimacy among treated and non-treated survivors who were children during the Holocaust

Estel Cohen, Rachel Dekel, Zahava Solomon, Tamar Lavie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background. This study examines the long-term consequences of the Holocaust on child survivors as implicated in PTSD residues and fears of intimacy. Method. Participants were 43 Holocaust child survivors who received psychotherapy, 48 participants who also went through the Holocaust as children, but did not receive psychotherapy, and 43 Israeli-born participants who did not directly experience the Holocaust. Data regarding PTSD, fear of intimacy, and exposure-related variables were gathered via standardized self-report questionnaires. Results. The findings show that both treated and non-treated survivors reported significantly higher levels of post-traumatic residues than the non-Holocaust controls, while the treated survivors reported higher levels than the non-treated ones. Treated survivors also differed from the other two groups in their levels of fear of intimacy. In addition, survivors who had been in concentration camps reported significantly more PTSD symptoms than survivors who had been in hiding. Two alternative interpretations are offered. No differences were found in the fear of intimacy of those who survived in the different settings. Conclusions. The findings point to the long-lasting impact of the Holocaust experience on child survivors, although they also demonstrate wide variability in survivors' long-term adjustment that should be further explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-617
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Volume38
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2003

Keywords

  • Child Holocaust survivors
  • Intimacy
  • PTSD
  • Psychotherapy

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