In the aftermath of the Holocaust. Many concentration camp survivors were transformed by their experiences and suffered with symptoms that would now be described as posttraumatic stress disorder. Surprisingly, in the years that followed, accounts circulated of children of survivors who were also severely affected. As one psychiatrist wrote at the time: "it would almost be easier to believe that they, rather than their parents, had suffered the corrupting, searing hell". At the time, psychological models dominated the field of psychiatry. It is perhaps not surprising that the children's symptoms were thought to be the "result of having traumatized parents who may have been symptomatic, neglectful, or otherwise impaired in parenting". In the ensuing decades, as scientists gained access to a range of new research tools, our understanding of psychiatric illness became increasingly rooted in brain science. Some of the earliest successes of the biological psychiatry movement came with seminal studies of posttraumatic stress disorder: first, demonstrating dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and later revealing alterations in the epigenetic regulation of key genes in the stress response system. When researchers began studying Holocaust survivors using modern tools, they found many biological signs associated with trauma. Interestingly, their children showed the same biological and epigenetic markers. On one hand, this demonstrated that the syndrome seen in the children was not merely behavioral—it was biologically mediated in the same way as their parents’. But it also raised a more profound question: did the children acquire these changes by virtue of their own traumatic experiences (conceivably including the stress of being raised by an ill parent)? Or was it possible that there might be some other process at play? The question struck at foundational principles of biology. See the October 2019 issue of the biological psychiatry journal with online paper by Yale Professors Stefanie L. Gillson and David A Ross
So modern methodology has proved that traumatic lived experience is inherited by a proven mechanism that is a realisation in DNA of Markovian evolution. Perhaps an extension of this research offers insights into some of the characteristics of 20th century Jews -- highlighted by the remarkable success of the revived Jewish State of Israel.
Ashenazic Jews living in Europe had for over eighteen hundred years faced restrictions on how they could earn their living. Ownership of arable land was forbidden -- so few Jews were in agriculture. Almost all professions were barred to them. Just a very few careers -- such as pawnbroking -- forbidden to Christians -- were open. But there were some obvious positives. Unlike the citizens of the countries in which they lived - they certainly could not be accuratedly termed fellow-citizens -- all males (at least) were literate. They faced constant threats -- dangers to lfe -- such as the massive massacres perpetuated in the Rhineland by the goodly Christian Crusadens enroute to Jerusalem -- and the random slaughter by Cossacks in the Russian Empire.
The Twentieth Century brought a unqique horror -- the mechanised genocide of the Holocaust. Just a paltry percentage of those` directly involved survived. Many of them carried mental scars for life. But a large percentage of the children of survivors also have such issues and problems. But why and how? Some have pointed at the role of survivor parents in the upbringing of their children. But, as Bill Clinton said:
It's the DNA, Stupid
But How? Classical Darwinism could explain how Jews in the twentieth century could show some extraordinary talents as measured -- for example -- by the number ofJewish Nobel Prize Winners in Physics. Survival of the fitest? Average IQ raising as only the more intelligent survived over generations? Some historians have pointed to the concept of Yiccus -- desirability for marriage -- that scholars possess -- which meant that within the Jewish community the daughters of the more successful merchants sought betrothal to the sons of rabbis.
Why were 50% of the White Activists in the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's Jews?
Why were 90% of the White Activists in fighting Apartheid in South Africa Jews?
Why - and How - was it that in Australia the first University Student Religious Society to actively work for aboriginal progress was not a University branch of the Australian Student Christian Society or the Newman Society but the ANU Jewish Students Society?