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Holocaust survivors, successful lifelong coping after trauma

by Baum, Susan

Abstract (Summary)
This study explored how Jewish Holocaust survivors had coped with various stress situations in their lives by identifying and articulating what were facilitative coping tactics. The goal of the study was to understand their lifelong coping process and to contribute to the field of counselling psychology by providing information on what helps survivors of the Holocaust be successful copers over a lifetime. A comprehensive category system was developed for a wide range of successful long tem coping strategies. The research method involved extensive interviews with eIeven Jewish Holocaust survivors who were considered to be well-functioning. Flanagan's (1954) Critical Incident Technique was chosen because ir provided a structure to the information gathering and allows for a rigorous validation process. Participant's interviews were tape recorded and later transcribed verbatum. A total of 1,416 critical incidents extracted were identified. Twenty-three categories ernerged in the cntical incident data analysis as follows: (1) seeking social support, (2) reflecting, (3) positive reappraising, (4) emulating, (5) Jewish identity, (6) helping others, (7) enduring hardship, (8) participating in enjoyable activities, (9) accepting reality, (10) planful problem solving, (1 1) bearing witness, (12) affective self-controlling, (13) planful physical escaping from life threatening situations, ( 14) distancing, ( 15) initiating action. (16) believing in lucky fate, ( 17) belonging, ( 18) understanding context, (1 9) being responsible/accountable for self and others, (20) confronting, (21) believing in the value of education, (22) hope in Israel. and (23) believing in the supematural. The validity and reliability of the categories were ensured through: (a) the use of an independent rater, (b) the use of an expert rater, (c) participants' cross-checking, (d) exhaustiveness, (e) participation rate, and (0 theoretical agreement in the research literature to related findings. The findings of this study contribute to the field of counselling psychology by providing a category system with descriptions of what constitute successful coping strategies for Holocaust survivors. Results of the study reveal how Jewish identity issues are intertwined in the coping process. Theoretical and clinical implications of the present study are explored, and suggestions for future research are discussed.
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Source Type:Master's Thesis

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Date of Publication:01/01/1999

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