Roni Avinadav Woolrich and F. Derner, Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies Gordon, Attachment styles of second generation Holocaust survivors, NY Adelphi University, Garden City 2005
It is almost universally acknowledged that the aftermath of World War II has left enduring wounds on Holocaust survivors, and that the survivors' past traumatization has deeply affected their relationship with their children.
In this study, 75 children of Holocaust survivors (CHS) were compared with 57 children of non-Holocaust survivors (CNHS) to see whether differences in attachment styles to their parents and other close relationships as well as differences in the degrees of depression, anxiety, anger, and curiosity would be found. Participants completed a demographic questionnaire, the Relationship Scales Questionnaire (RSQ), the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI), and the Revised State-Trait Personality Inventory (STPI-Y). Significant differences were found between the two groups on the RSQ, with CHS showing higher levels of fearful attachment style to their partner or other close relationship, than controls. Although CHS did not report having higher levels of insecure attachment to their parents than controls, they tended to answer the subscales of attachment about romantic partner or other close relationship, mother, and father in a similar fashion as did CNHS. Based on this finding we can infer that CHS are fearfully attached to their parents via the process of intergenerational transmission of attachment. Differences between the two groups on the PBI were not significant. However, when compared with the normative means, both groups scored lower on the "care" scale and higher on the "overprotection" scale. CHS reported significant higher levels of depression on both the STPI and on a question asking participants to describe their general mood. Although no great differences were found between CHS and CNHS on the anger scale of the STPI, scores followed the expected direction, with CHS scoring higher than controls. Moreover, CHS' responses to the question, "describe your general mood," yielded higher means for anger than the responses of CNHS. The outcome of this study regarding anxiety is the most surprising and inconsistent of all. Although no significant differences were found between the two groups on the anxiety scale of the STPI, CHS reported feeling significantly more anxious than CNHS to the question, "please describe your general mood." Additionally, CHS and CNHS reported higher degrees of anxiety than the normative sample on the STPI. No significant differences were found between CHS and CNHS on the curiosity scale of the STPI. However, CHS did display lower means than controls.