Co-Principal Investigators:
Roberta R. Greene, Ph.D.
Marilyn Armour, Ph.D.

Duration: 2007-2010

This three-year research project is designed to study the relationship between forgiveness, resilience and survivorship among older adults who are Holocaust survivors. Replicating a study originally conducted in Israel, the project involves interviewing survivors in nine U. S. locations: Austin, Dallas, Houston, New Jersey, New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Antonio, and Washington, DC. Researcher-trained social workers at each location using a structured protocol interviewed a total of 133 Holocaust survivors. Conferences entitled Holocaust Survivors: Stories of Resilience will be presented at five locations (Austin, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and New York) bringing forth the research findings to mental health practitioners, faculty, students, and to the community at large to inform our understanding of factors that buffer against the effects of adverse events, leaving people better prepared to respond to such traumatic situations as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The project will:

  • offer Holocaust survivors opportunities to share their adaptive strategies;
  • provide information for constructing training materials;
  • inform clinical social work practice following adverse events in various settings and fields of practice, such as violent acts in schools or in the workplace as well as recovery from floods and hurricanes ;
  • suggest therapeutic methods to prevent the burnout of emergency personnel;
  • provide information for community work on reconciliation in the aftermath of acts of terrorism, civil unrest or human rights violations;
  • establish continuing education to better prepare volunteers who are trained for emergency and trauma work; and
  • disseminate information at scientific meetings and in journals as well as continuing education programs.

Researchers expect to learn 1) how relatively forgiving participants are; 2) how resilient they say they are; 3) how they perceive meeting Erikson’s life tasks; and 4) the interrelationships among these factors. Additionally, researchers will learn whether the Holocaust experience prepared them for old age, as well as subsequent life events.

The John Templeton Foundation

Keywords: domestic violence, sexual violence, community violence, sexual abuse, resilience, survivorship, forgiveness, holocaust survivor