The intergenerational effects of trauma from terror: A real possibility


  • This work was supported partially by Grant 389/05 from the Israel Science Foundation to the first author.


The goals of this article are to discuss the potential risk of children whose parents were traumatized by terror, to present literature on parenting in the context of terror, and to consider factors that may mediate the transmission of trauma-effects from parents to children. Mediators considered are parents' traumatic distress, disturbed parent–child interactions, trauma-related disturbances in parents' thinking, and effects of stress on children's neural functioning. Also discussed are genetic and environmental factors that may moderate the transmission of intergenerational effects and promote children's risk and resilience. Points raised during the discussion are illustrated with segments from interviews of women who were pregnant or gave birth some time after direct exposure to a terror attack. The authors conclude that empirical studies are needed to learn more about the intergenerational transmission of trauma-effects and processes that underlie it. The authors join others in the call to improve evaluation, treatment, and support of trauma victims and their children to stymie the transmission of problems from one generation to the next.