Interpersonal adjustment, narcissism, and coping in children of Holocaust survivors

Lisa Baron, Fordham University


The theory of intergenerational transmission, the basis of the present study, suggested the possibility that the trauma experienced in the Holocaust combined with certain circumstances in the lives of the survivors and their children would result in poorer interpersonal adjustment and coping and greater narcissism in the children than in children of survivors without these circumstances and children of non-survivors. These circumstances included: the ages of the parents at the times of parental loss, the ages of the parents in 1939, the locations of the parents during the Holocaust, survivor status of parents, birth order placement of the child-respondent, and participation in a group for children of survivors. One hundred and ninety-three children of European-born parents volunteered for the study, of whom 149 were children of survivors and 44 were children of escaped parents. The respondents were sent four scales of the CPI (Self-Acceptance, Sociability, Social Presence, and Communality); the O'Brien Multiphasic Narcissism Inventory (OMNI); and the Hardiness scale. They were also asked to complete a relevant data questionnaire. The results indicate that both children of survivors and children of European-born parents are quite similar to the standardization samples as well as to each other in the areas of interpersonal adjustment, narcissism, and coping. The circumstances hypothesized to be influential in the transmission of Holocaust trauma were rarely significant and given the large number of analyses performed, may have displayed significance simply by chance. It was concluded that the clinical psychologist not make assumptions about the presence of disturbances in children of survivors being attributable to survivor status per se. Rather, the practitioner needs to be sensitive to a number of background details in children of both survivors and of parents who escaped, and to consider the various possible effects of such circumstantial details on a given individual.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Baron, Lisa, "Interpersonal adjustment, narcissism, and coping in children of Holocaust survivors" (1992). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9215346.