Are children of Holocaust survivors less well-adapted? A meta-analytic investigation of secondary traumatization

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Abstract

H. Keilson (1979) coined the term “sequential traumatization” for the accumulation of traumatic stresses confronting the Holocaust survivors before, during, and after the war. A central question is whether survivors were able to raise their children without transmitting the traumas of their past. Through a series of meta-analyses on 32 samples involving 4,418 participatns, we tested the hypothesis of secondary traumatization in Holocaust survivor families. In the set of adequately designed nonclinical studies, no evidence for the influence of the parents' traumatic Holocaust experiences on their children was found. Secondary traumatization emerged only in studies on clinical participants, who were stressed for other reasons. A stress-diathesis model is used to interpret the absence of secondary traumatization in nonclinical offspring of Holocaust survivors.

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