CHILDREN OF SURVIVORS OF THE NAZI HOLOCAUST: A PERSONALITY STUDY
LICHTMAN, HELEN GOLDKORN
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This study investigated six personality variables among children of survivors of the Holocaust, and the relationship between different kinds of parental communication of their experiences and their children's personalities. Five of the six personality variables investigated have been described as part of the "survivor syndrome". These traits are depression, anxiety, paranoia, hypochondriasis and guilt. Another trait of a different nature that was investigated, is empathy.;The following hypotheses were projected: (1) Children of survivors would achieve higher scores than the control group on tests designed to measure each of the above-mentioned traits; (2) The greater the parental trauma, the higher the score on tests measuring each of the personality variables; (3) A significant relationship would exist between the different kinds of parental communication and their children's personalities; (4) The effects of parental trauma and the communication of the experiences would have different effects on male vs. female children.;Thirty males and 34 females were in the children of survivors group. The control group consisted of 18 males and 25 females. Children of survivors were divided into four different groups commenserate with their parents' experiences.;Results indicated that the children of survivor group achieved significantly higher scores than the control group on the MMPI derived scale of Anxiety, and that female children of survivors achieved significantly higher scores on the MMPI Hypochondriasis scale, as compared to their female controls. Regarding the paranoia variable, the subgroup whose parents were in hiding achieved significantly higher scores than the control group. No significant differences emerged between groups on measures of depression, guilt and empathy.;Parental trauma, as evaluated by the children of survivors, was significantly related to the MMPI measure of paranoia, but not to any of the other personality variables.;Regarding communication, when male and female children of survivors were evaluated together, most forms of communication were significantly related to higher scores on negative personality variables for the children. When male and female children of survivors were evaluated separately, parental communication had an overall positive or neutral effect on male subjects and an overall negative effect on females, although father's communication had a positive effect on females as well as males.
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