Legacy of the Armenian Genocide: The Power of Attachment and Ethnic Orientation on Intergenerational Trauma

Katrina Maritza Selverian, Fordham University


The Armenian-American population faced extinction through genocide by Ottoman Turkey in 1915 and survived. This study focused on the long-term impact of that genocide for 387 children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the survivors. Specifically, it explored attachment as a mechanism allowing for the intergenerational transmission of trauma. Through a quantitative design, the relationship between attachment and intergenerational trauma was investigated, with ethnic orientation considered as a potential moderator. There are very few quantitative studies focusing on the means of transmission of intergenerational trauma for Armenian-Americans, and fewer on the moderating element of ethnic orientation. The results suggested that “dismissing attachment” was the most common attachment experience for this group. There were significant positive correlations between all insecure attachment styles and intergenerational trauma, though only two types (fearful and preoccupied) directly predicted it. Ethnic orientation was not identified as a moderator for the relationship between fearful attachment and intergenerational trauma, but there was a small significant moderating effect on the relationship between preoccupied attachment and intergenerational trauma. This study provides support for viewing attachment as a mechanism through which trauma is transferred across generations. The prevalence of dismissing attachment should be viewed and understood in the context of survival instinct, adaptation, and resilience, though there are clinical implications. Utilizing an attachment perspective is vital to best treat descendants of trauma, and especially those of minority communities with refugee origins.

Subject Area

Cultural anthropology|Individual & family studies|Counseling Psychology|Mental health|Holocaust Studies

Recommended Citation

Selverian, Katrina Maritza, "Legacy of the Armenian Genocide: The Power of Attachment and Ethnic Orientation on Intergenerational Trauma" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28714174.