Study: Holocaust site trips cause mental disease


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A new study led by Tel Aviv University researchers finds that the Holocaust education trips Israeli students take Poland every year can trigger mental health problems.

The study was based on questionnaires filled out by 50 Israeli psychiatrists and residents specializing in children and adolescents. The Holocaust trips accounted for as many reported psychiatric referrals as high school “sleep-out” trips – multi-day hiking excursions to various parts of Israel – which are much more frequent and widely attended. Even so, the researchers say, severe psychological fallout from the Holocaust-education trips appears to be rare. Only four diagnoses of psychosis, one diagnosis of PTSD, and one hospitalization were reported.

About a third of the psychiatric professionals surveyed in this pilot study said they had treated teenagers for psychological problems arising from the Holocaust education trips. While most of the teenagers were treated for less severe symptoms such as anxiety, adjustment, and mood disorders, reports also cited hospitalization, post-traumatic-stress disorder, and psychosis.

In the majority of cases, the affected teenagers exhibited risk factors—like psychiatric or family crises or social difficulties – prior to the Holocaust education trips. Others had stressful experiences during the trips, such as being bullied, that were unrelated to Holocaust education.

In the future, the study suggests investigating the role identity plays in teenagers’ reactions to preplanned stressors. For instance, do Holocaust-education trips affect Israeli teenagers differently than their peers from other countries? Or is having a Holocaust-survivor grandparent a risk factor?

American Jewish scholar, professor Jacob Neusner once complained that American Judaism was becoming a ‘Holocaust memorial movement’. Israeli professor Yeshyahu Leibowictz has defined Holocaust as new Jewish religion.

And finally a good prescription from an honest Jewish Shrink.

“Remembering the Holocaust is like placing a live hand grenade in a room full of small children. It is no good to them in any way, and sooner or later they will play with it, and kill or injure themselves. Only an evil person would do such a thing. Those who place Holocaust memory on earth are the historians, the archivists, the museum directors, the writers, the designers of Holocaust memorials, the creators of memory websites. Politicians and philosophers demand and emphasise Holocaust memory. They bear a heavy responsibility, and it is increasing. A hypothetical United States conquest of Africa, to “implement human rights and stop genocide”, would probably kill over ten million people. (That guess is based on the civilian casualties in Iraq and Vietnam). The longer the Holocaust is remembered, the more people will suffer, the more people will die, the more injustice will be done – all with reference to that memory. The right thing to do is to terminate the memory,” says Paul Treanor.

Study: Holocaust site trips cause mental disease | Rehmat's World