Memories of Holocaust-related traumatic experiences, sense of coherence, and survivors' subjective well-being in late life: some puzzling findings

Background and Objectives: This study explores the nexus of relationships between memories of Holocaust-related early traumatic events, survivors’ sense of coherence (SOC), and subjective well-being (SWB) in late life. Design: The basic design of this study, based 106 survivors (54% female), was cross-sectional. Methods: Participants underwent an extensive in-depth clinical interview relating to their Holocaust experiences and responded to measures of SOC and SWB. Results: These data provided no evidence for the moderating or “buffering” effect of SOC but showed support for indirect effects of SOC in the relationship between memory traces of specific traumatic experiences and adaptive outcomes. Conclusions: The results of the present study provide support for Antonovsky’s salutogenic perspective. It is highly plausible that survivors who underwent severe experiences during the Holocaust period were forced to call upon all their inner strengths and coping resources,and that their success in doing so and also surviving this horrendous period, might have contributed to the development of a stronger sense of meaning and coherence, which, in turn lead to a better sense of mental health as they approach the final season of their lives.

Moshe Zeidner, Eynat Aharoni-David | 2015
In: Anxiety, stress and coping, ISSN 1061-5806 | 28 | 3 | 254-271