Adults

As the majority of those who were able to survive the Holocaust were adults, most studies of the psychological ramifications of this event are centered around adults.  It is clear that the large majority, understandably, have experienced mental and emotional impairment as a result of this trauma, despite the fact that they seem to enjoy physical health comparable to those of their peers.

Psychological Effects

The trauma of the Holocaust certainly took a toll on adults who experienced the concentration camps.  A wide breadth of psychological issues have been commonly found in these survivors, including an increased vulnerability age-related stressors throughout the aging process, as well as heightened levels of dissociative symptomatology compared to adults of a similar age group who had not undergone such trauma.  Adult survivors have been found to have lower functioning across a variety of psychosocial markers, such that they are considered to be less psychologically and socially adjusted, in general, than their non-survivor peers (Van Jzendoorn et al., 2010).  Religion has been found to mediate these psychological ramifications of the Holocaust; secular survivors were, on average, found to have significantly worse psychological functioning and lower world assumption scores as a result of this trauma (Palgi et al., 2011).

Physical Effects

Despite the great physical trauma undergone by adult survivors of the Holocaust, these individuals have been shown to be just as equally healthy as non-survivors.  They have been shown to be physically comparable to their peers on various levels of physical functioning, including stress responses, cognitive functioning, and overall physical health.

In fact, Holocaust survivors actually have a lower mortality risk than non-survivors, despite their lower psychosocial functioning that may otherwise act as a risk factor for higher morality.  This increased life expectancy has been attributed to physical resilience that may have been learned in the context of such physical deprivation as that experienced in the concentration camps, such that survivors have adapted to handle any physical trauma (Shrira et al., 2011).

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