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COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Do Holocaust survivors show increased vulnerability or resilience to post-Holocaust cumulative adversity?

Amit Shrira, Yuval Palgi, Menachem Ben-Ezra, Dov Shmotkin
Journal of Traumatic Stress 2010, 23 (3): 367-75
20564370
Prior trauma can hinder coping with additional adversity or inoculate against the effect of recurrent adversity. The present study further addressed this issue by examining whether a subsample of Holocaust survivors and comparison groups, drawn from the Israeli component of the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe, were differentially affected by post-Holocaust cumulative adversity. Post-Holocaust cumulative adversity had a stronger effect on the lifetime depression of Holocaust survivors than on that of comparisons. However, comparisons were more negatively affected by post-Holocaust cumulative adversity when examining markers of physical and cognitive functioning. Our findings suggest that previous trauma can both sensitize and immunize, as Holocaust survivors show general resilience intertwined with specific vulnerability when confronted with additional cumulative adversity.

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