EXPLORING INTERGENERATIONAL TRANSMISSION OF TRAUMA IN THIRD GENERATION HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS
intergenerational transmission trauam
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Over sixty-five years ago the Jewish people were liberated from Nazi Europe. Since that time, researchers have found that the Holocaust has had a psychological, social, and cultural effect on first and second generation survivors. Despite the significant amount of research that has been done on Holocaust survivors and their offspring, little has been investigated about when, why and how surviving generations begin to move past pathological symptoms. This study explored the impact the Holocaust had on third generation survivors through administering an eight item semi-structured questionnaire called, The Third Generation Questionnaire, which was created for the purpose of this study. The questions emerged from the literature as well as the search for perceptions and meanings and utilized Vikor Frankl’s existential theory. The questionnaire was administered to a purposive sample of (N=30) of third generation survivors through REDCap, an online survey database. Previous research points to the transmission of pathologic symptoms; this study strongly suggests that among third generation survivors, pride, strength, and gratitude are as much a part of the legacy as the negative effects of the experience. The third generation appears to be reconstructing their grandparents’ history, resurfacing their legacy, and in doing so they are realizing the strength and heroic battles their grandparents fought in order to get to the place they are today. Findings indicate that rather than ruminating on the pain of their ancestors, focusing attention on their strength may result in the ability to move past the pathological symptoms. Focusing this study on third generation survivors expands scientific knowledge regarding transmission of trauma and provides direction to clinical social workers treating individuals who may have a history of intergenerational trauma.
Roberta Sands, PhD
Mary Mazzola, EdD