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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychiatry | doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00718

Variables Connecting Parental PTSD to Offspring Successful Aging: Parent-Child Role Reversal, Secondary Traumatization and Depressive Symptoms

  • 1Bar-Ilan University, Israel

The effects of parental trauma on offspring of Holocaust survivors (OHS) are debated in the literature. Recently, scholars suggested that it may be more productive to ask when and via which mechanisms such effects are observed. Following, the current study examines if parental Holocaust-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms are linked with the aging processes of their middle-aged offspring. Beyond this association, we also suggested a putative mediation path, indicating three underlying mechanisms by which parental trauma lingers on: perceived parent-child role reversal, secondary traumatization, and depressive symptoms. Using a convenience sample of 682 community-dwelling participants, comprising, 341 older adult parent-middle-aged offspring dyads (M age=81.71 and 54.58 for parents and offspring, respectively) to address this issue. Parents reported PTSD with the valid measure of PCL-5. OHS reported perceived parent-child role reversal, secondary traumatization, depressive symptoms and completed indices of successful aging. Based on parents' reports, we divided the parent-offspring dyads into three groups: OHS whose parents had probable PTSD (n dyads=43), OHS whose parents did not had PTSD (n dyads=161), and comparison with parents who did not undergo the Holocaust (n dyads=137). Findings reveal that OHS with parents suffering from probable PTSD aged less successfully than comparisons. Serial mediation analyses validated the aforementioned putative pathway (perceived parent-child role reversal, secondary traumatization, and depression) linking parental PTSD with offspring successful aging. Our findings are discussed through a vignette depicting a fictional OHS character. These underlying mechanisms suggest that different types of interventions, each geared towards a specific mechanism, may mitigate the lingering effect of parental PTSD on diminished OHS successful aging.

Keywords: Parental PTSD, Parent-child role reversal, intergenerational transmission, Holocaust, successful aging, Depression

Received: 17 Jun 2019; Accepted: 09 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Hoffman and Shrira. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Yaakov S. Hoffman, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel, hoffmay@gmail.com