Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an extremely common disorder throughout the world. It’s a disorder that occurs to men and women who have experienced a trauma that effects them throughout the rest of their lives. With that being said, the Holocaust is a perfect example of an extreme trauma that could have happened to somebody. The Holocaust was a state-sponsored genocide of six million Jews (Grodin, 543). Post-traumatic stress disorder after the Holocaust was and is very common and also untreated. Some people have the false misconception of PTSD being a post war related disorder, which only occurs to war veterans. Although this may be the largest percentage of PTSD victims, you may acquire the disorder from a trauma as simple as car crash.
Even though the Holocaust took place over sixty years ago, many Israelis deal with it in their lives and imaginations. With the Holocaust occurring in the 1930’s and 40’s research on PTSD was close to nonexistent. With trauma being an everyday thing in concentration camps, PTSD was extremely common to the few that survived. “Forty-six percent of the total sample met the DSM-III-R criteria for PTSD. The most common symptoms were sleep disturbance, recurrent nightmares, and intense distress over reminders.” (Clarke Institute of Psychiatry). The symptoms for Holocaust related PTSD usually included a sleep disturbance with reoccurring nightmares. Often times, people held in the concentration camps were physically marked somehow to keep them organized. Whether it was a tattooed number on ones forearm or a scar from being beaten, the physical remembrance was sometimes treated as a trigger for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
There are many differing types of Holocaust survivors, who suffered in numerous ways. There are the concentration camp victims, ones forced to live in a ghetto, labor camp victims, and those forced to just hide from the enemy. Others may have just seen parents or children go through the systems of concentration camps, and just that takes a huge toll on them. Some Holocaust survivors have been able to thrive and have a family and make a living. Others have not been able to successfully live in a post Holocaust world (Grodin, 543). Some survivors have survivor guilt from seeing a loved one die, and can’t can talk out their feelings. The others suffering from PTSD cannot overcome their wartime experiences and continue to live with the daily reminder of the Holocaust due to the disorder.
PTSD is affecting both the survivors and the survivor’s children and grandchildren. The stories resonate through generations. The stories of hunger, violence, and abuse are being passed down through generations. According to Judith Hassan, a physician specializing in survivors of the Holocaust with PTSD; there were a low number of survivors that asked for help. She says that those who were the most traumatized in the camps were the least likely to ask for help because of their fears, weaknesses and vulnerability to which asking for help applies (Hassan, 50).What brought about the PTSD in the elderly is quite interesting. Hassan noticed in her research that the normal part of ageing bought about the PTSD in many of her patients. Elderly patients experiencing another trauma such as retirement or bereavement would want to talk about these issues. The normal process of ageing and these experiences would bring thoughts of their Holocaust experiences (Hassan, 50).
“Some have been able to discuss their horrifying experiences with family, friends, and mental health professionals, but others have never discussed these with anyone. Some were overwhelmed with guilt, and some felt lucky to survive. Finally, some show astounding resilience, while others simply cannot overcome their wartime experiences.”(Groding, 543)
Hassan’s willingness to listen and work through these PTSD issues seemed to help the survivors immensely. Some had never even talked about their Holocaust tragedies before then, and you could see how healing it was to get some of the stories of their chest.
All in all, the Holocaust killed millions, and affected millions more after that. The victims were not limited to the Jews who were killed in concentration camps. Victims of the Holocaust are walking the earth now as parents, husbands, wives and even grandparents and some continue to struggle. Although the Holocaust may be technically over, some victims may only escape the extreme tragedy through death.
Works Cited Page Clarke Institute of Psychiatry. "Result Filters." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 1992. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.
Judith Hassan. European Judaism: A Journal for the New Europe. Vol. 25, No. 2 (Autums 92), pp. 50-55)
Michael A. Grodin. "Caring for Aging Holocaust Survivors and Subsequent Generations." American Imago 68.3 (2011): 543-559.Project MUSE. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. .