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Balancing psychache and resilience in aging Holocaust survivors

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 February 2014

Irit Ohana
Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel
Hava Golander
Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel
Yoram Barak*
Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel
Correspondence should be addressed to: Prof. Yoram Barak, Director-Psychogeriatrics, Abarbanel Mental Health Center, 15 KKL Street, Bat-Yam 59100, Israel. Phone/Fax: +972-3-5552738. Email:



Psychache can and does co-exist alongside resilience and coping amongst trauma survivors. This has been the center of the a-integrative theory of aging demonstrating an attitude to life based on cognitive and emotional dimensions. Aging of Holocaust survivors (HS) is especially difficult when focus is brought to the issue of integrating their life history. The present study aimed to investigate the interplay between psychache and resilience amongst aging HS.


Cross-sectional study of HS and a matched comparison group recruited from the general population was carried out. All underwent a personal interview and endorsed quantifiable psychache and resilience scales.


We enrolled 214 elderly participants: 107 HS and 107 comparison participants. Mean age for the participants was 80.7± years; there were 101 women and 113 men in each group. Holocaust survivors did not differ in the level of resilience from comparisons (mean: 5.82 ± 0.68 vs. 5.88 ± 0.55, respectively). Psychache was significantly more intense in the HS group (F(8,205) = 2.21; p < 0.05).


The present study demonstrates the complex interplay between psychache and resilience. Aging HS still have to cope with high levels of psychache while realizing a life-long process of development through resilience.

Research Article
Copyright © International Psychogeriatric Association 2014 

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