Sense of coherence moderates late effects of early childhood Holocaust exposure

Elisheva A M van der Hal-van Raalte, Marinus H van IJzendoorn, Marian J Bakermans-Kranenburg
Journal of Clinical Psychology 2008, 64 (12): 1352-67
This study evaluated child Holocaust survivors with an emphasis on potential protective factors facilitating participants' adaptation to post-Holocaust life. We examined Antonovsky's (1979, 1987) salutogenic paradigm, testing the mediating and moderating effect of participants' sense of coherence (SOC) on the association between early childhood deprivation due to Holocaust persecution and posttraumatic stress later in life. The nonclinical sample, composed of 203 child Holocaust survivors born between 1935 and 1944 completed questionnaires on Holocaust survival exposure, inventories on current health, posttraumatic stress, and SOC. The results indicated that SOC moderates the association between traumatic experiences during the war and posttraumatic stress, and SOC acts as a protective factor, buffering the impact of traumatic Holocaust experiences on child survivors in old age. Survivors with a less coherent perspective on the meaning of their life showed greater vulnerability for posttraumatic complaints. The moderating role of the SOC may suggest promising avenues of therapeutic interventions for child Holocaust survivors and other adults with early childhood trauma.

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