The holocaust and the survivor syndrome

Comments On the morning of April 15,70 years ago this month, a convoy of Canadian and British soldiers liberated Franci Solar, a year-old Czechoslovakian dressmaker, from the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen, in northern Germany. She had been living in camps, including Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, since

The holocaust and the survivor syndrome

Wikimedia Commons Advertisement A person's experience as a child or teenager can have a profound impact on their future children's lives, new work is showing.

Rachel Yehuda, a researcher in the growing field of epigenetics and the intergenerational effects of trauma, and her colleagues have long studied mass trauma survivors and their offspring.

The holocaust and the survivor syndrome

Their latest results reveal that descendants of people who survived the Holocaust have different stress hormone profiles than their peers, perhaps predisposing them to anxiety disorders.

Survivors have lower levels of cortisol, a hormone that helps the body return to normal after trauma; those who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD have even lower levels. It is not completely clear why survivors produce less cortisol, but Yehuda's team recently found that survivors also have low levels of an enzyme that breaks down cortisol.

The adaptation makes sense: The younger the survivors were during World War II, the less of the enzyme they have as adults. This finding echoes the results of many other human epigenetic studies that show that the effects of certain experiences during childhood and adolescence are especially enduring in individuals and sometimes even across generations right.

Most recently, a new study looked at the descendants of the Holocaust survivors. Like their parents, many have low levels of cortisol, particularly if their mothers had PTSD.

Survivor guilt - Wikipedia

Yet unlike their parents, they have higher than normal levels of the cortisol-busting enzyme. Yehuda and her colleagues theorize that this adaptation happened in utero.

The enzyme is usually present in high levels in the placenta to protect the fetus from the mother's circulating cortisol. If pregnant survivors had low levels of the enzyme in the placenta, a greater amount of cortisol could make its way to the fetus, which would then develop high levels of the enzyme to protect itself.

Epigenetic changes often serve to biologically prepare offspring for an environment similar to that of the parents, Yehuda explains. In this case, however, the needs of the fetus seem to have trumped that goal.

With low levels of cortisol and high levels of the enzyme that breaks it down, many descendants of Holocaust survivors would be ill adapted to survive starvation themselves. In fact, that stress hormone profile might make them more susceptible to PTSD below, yellow ; previous studies have indeed suggested that the offspring of Holocaust survivors are more vulnerable to the effects of stress and are more likely to experience symptoms of PTSD.

These descendants may also be at risk for age-related metabolic syndromes, including obesity, hypertension and insulin resistance, particularly in an environment of plenty. Yet it is still too early in our investigation into the epigenetics of this complex stress-response system to know for sure whether these molecular changes indicate any real-world risks or benefits.Most recently, a new study looked at the descendants of the Holocaust survivors.


Like their parents, many have low levels of cortisol, particularly if their mothers had PTSD. Survivor syndrome. Survivor syndrome, also known as concentration camp syndrome (or KZ syndrome on account of the German term Konzentrationslager), are terms which have been used to describe the reactions and behaviors of people who have survived massive and adverse events, such as the Holocaust, the Rape of Nanking, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Living the Holocaust by the Survivors Essay Words | 12 Pages.

Descendants of Holocaust Survivors Have Altered Stress Hormones - Scientific American

Living the Holocaust by the Survivors World War II ended in Europe on May 7, , but to many survivors of the Holocaust, the war would remain with them for the rest of their lives.

Addresses various psychological concerns, including a debate over “survivor syndrome,” alternative therapies for survivors, and psychological effects on the children of . At some point over their lifetime, 29 percent of the offspring of Holocaust survivors had experienced symptoms of depression and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as .

The holocaust and the survivor syndrome

Sommer Garcia INTD Studies of the Holocaust May 23, Holocaust Child Survivors and the effects of Survivor Syndrome The child survivors of the Hol Home Login.

Holocaust Survivors and Their Children: A Search for Positive Effects