The Holocaust, the persecution of Jewish people which preceded it and the chaotic state of Europe after the war must have placed an almost-intolerable burden on those that survived it. Yet there are wide disparities in how well, or badly, people coped with these dreadful events. In 1979 Aaron Antonovsky put forward the idea of Sense of Coherence to explain some of these disparities. Sense of Coherence (SOC) is made up of: the ability to comprehend what happens around oneself, the ability to manage a given situation alone or with the help of others and the ability to find some meaning for what is happening. A study of 203 child Holocaust survivors born between 1935 and 1944 asked the participants about their experiences during the Holocaust, their current health, their levels of post-traumatic stress and their SOC. The study found that SOC was able to moderate the association between traumatic experiences during the Holocaust and post-traumatic stress. SOC acted as a protective factor, buffering the impact of traumatic Holocaust experiences on child survivors in old age. Survivors with a less coherent perspective on the meaning of their life showed a greater vulnerability for post-traumatic complaints.
Van der Hal-van Raalte, Elisheva A. M., van IJzendoorn, Marinus H. and Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marian J. - Sense of coherence moderates late effects of early childhood Holocaust exposure Journal of Clinical Psychology December 2008, 64(12), 1352-1367