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Psychological effects of the holocaust on survivors

Just past the impromptu corridor gallery is her small, cluttered kitchen. The 91-year-old artist survived two concentration camps and spent 18 months in the Yugoslav resistance. And like many of the roughly 60,000 survivors in the New York Metropolitan Area, Costabel still suffers from the war, partly due to the effects of malnutrition. While some survivors tend to hoard food, or eat spoiled food rather than throw it away, they also have higher rates of osteoporosis, cancer and other medical conditions, likely related to starvation during the war.

Added to the mix is the shockingly widespread poverty among survivors today, making it difficult for many to eat healthy — even in a city of plenty like New York. One survey of survivors noted they lost on average an estimated 60 pounds in the camps. Artist Costabel survived two concentration camps in Italian territory on the Adriatic Coast.

While the conditions were relatively better than in the Nazi death camps and the Italians did not kill captive Jews, Costabel said, the conditions were still extreme and they were still starving. I had post-traumatic stress, this was in New York. A poorly understood problem Researchers have studied the long-lasting psychological effects of the Holocaust. Janina Galler of Harvard Medical School, however, studies the long-term effects of malnutrition.

Galler is not psychological effects of the holocaust on survivors of any longitudinal studies looking at the damage done specifically by starvation during the Holocaust, she said.

However, she added, researchers have documented the lasting effects of famine in China, the NetherlandsLeningradLatin America and elsewhere. Galler, herself the daughter of Holocaust survivors, said there are well-documented mental health effects among survivors, and starvation likely played a part in these problems.

  • Therefore, this seems to suggest that the severity of the coexistent psychiatric morbidity, such as schizophrenia, may explain the high incidence of chronic PTSD present for such a prolonged period;
  • Some described resignation, curtailment of emotional and normal feelings, weakening of social standards, regression to primative reactions and "relapse to animal state" whereas others show feelings of comeradeship, community spirit, a persistant humanity and extreme altruism- even moral development and religious revelation;
  • These people were lucky to have survived but there is no doubt that there have been times when their memories have made them think otherwise;
  • Includes a bibliography and an index;
  • When the people were transported to the concentration camps, they lived in horrible conditions such as filth and lack of hygiene, diseases and extreme nutritional insufficiency, continuous harassment, and physical ill treatment, perpetual psychic stress caused by the recurrent macabre deaths- all combined to influence deeply the attitudes and mental health of camp inmates.

Survivors are now geographically dispersed, she said, making it hard to study a group who had similar experiences during the war. The long-lasting health effects Survivors suffer from increased rates of cancer and other diseases, likely related to both trauma and malnutrition. A 2007 study found that female survivors were more than twice as likely to suffer from osteoporosis than the general female population.

Researchers at the University of Haifa in 2009 found that survivors in Israel were significantly more likely to get cancerespecially those who were younger during the Holocaust. Diabetes and dental issues are also significant problems, said Pearl of the Blue Card. Galler said her research indicates that children of young mothers born soon after liberation would also be vulnerable to the lasting effects of starvation.

Researchers studying survivors of famine in the Netherlands in World War II found that the grandchildren of women who were malnourished when pregnant had poorer health. Additionally, researchers led by Rachel Yehuda of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York found evidence that Holocaust survivors can pass the effects of trauma onto their children in their genes, a phenomenon called epigenetic inheritance.

Psychological Trauma and the Holocaust

But not all research agrees. A 2005 study from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem on 55 survivors in Israel did not find evidence of eating disorders. The authors acknowledged contradicting previous research, and said they did not have an explanation for the discrepancy, although survivors in Israel may be different in some ways than survivors elsewhere, they said.

Some of the women the Blue Card works with recreate recipes from their childhoods. Hoarding food is another issue. Treating the damage today Treating the health effects of survivors requires special dietary considerations. The Blue Card, which was established by Jews in Germany in 1934 to help the community deal with Nazi oppression, works with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help educate survivors on better nutrition, especially those with illnesses. They distribute a tip sheet on eating a healthy kosher diet while receiving cancer treatment, psychological effects of the holocaust on survivors example, and provide individual dietary advice to those who need it.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a Cleveland-based organization of nutrition professionals, had several special interest groups but was lacking information for the Jewish population, said Dr.

Meal plans had to be both economical and appealing. They distributed the guides by mail because many survivors have limited mobility and do not like to attend meetings. The program started in 2012, Edelstein said.

  • They had to adjust to strange new surroundings, learn a new language, and adapt to new laws, in addition to building new lives;
  • The descriptions of the survivors' syndrome in the late 1950's and 1960's created a new means of diagnosis in psychology and the behavioral sciences, and has become a model that has since served as a focal concept in examining the results of catastrophic stress situations.

They are the best way to keep someone nourished, Edelstein said, and many elderly people have difficulty preparing or chewing some foods. Costabel receives the drinks through the Blue Card.

What are You Studying?

The Italian flag hangs over the Rab concentration camp, where Costabel was held. The island of Rab in the Adriatic sea was occupied by Italy and is now a part of Croatia Public domain via Wikimedia Commons The problem of poverty The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Blue Card get some of their supply through donations because many elderly survivors would not be able to pay for the drinks, Edelstein said.

A 2013 report by Selfhelpa nonprofit that works with survivors, estimated that by 2020, there will be more than 38,000 survivors in the New York City Metropolitan Area, and 35 percent of them will be dealing with serious or chronic illnesses.

Some stock up on cheap but unhealthy canned and processed foods, and those with limited mobility have a hard time getting fresh produce, Pearl said. Some were unwilling or unable to have children, or married another survivor who has since passed away, so they lack family support.

This is my rule. Many victims of the Holocaust need more support than Costabel does, and the window to help them is closing fast, Pearl said. Auschwitz was liberated 71 years ago. In 2020, all survivors will be at least 75 years old.