Correlates of intrusive memories and avoidance of memories of the Holocaust

Sonia Letzter-Pouw, Perla Werner
Israel Journal of Psychiatry and related Sciences 2005, 42 (4): 271-7
Although intrusive memories and avoidance of memories are psychological phenomena frequently reported by Holocaust survivors, their correlates have not been systematically researched. The present cross-sectional study examined socio-demographic and health characteristics of elderly Holocaust survivors, as well as the survivors' experiences during the Holocaust. In addition, present distress related to the Holocaust and fear of dying were examined. Results showed that survivors frequently suffered from intrusive memories, but not often from avoidance of memories of the Holocaust. Intrusive memories were strongly associated with present distress from the Holocaust, as well as with self-perceived bad health and fear of dying. These findings suggest that intrusive memories influence survivors' perceptions of life and change the way in which they deal with aging.

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