Journal of Traumatic Stress Disorders & Treatment ISSN: 2324-8947

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The Search for Biomarkers of Holocaust Trauma

Despite significant progress in basic neuroscience research of stress and PTSD, no definite biological pathways of traumatization have been identified. As a result, the biological part of transgenerational transmission of Holocaust traumatization (HT) cannot be verified. Why has it been so difficult to find biomarkers of HT? The presentpaper  tries to answer this question with the help of a discussion of the various obstacles in this line of research. Such obstacles are not only caused by methodological constraints, but also because HT cannot simply be regarded as one specific and persistent disorder, whichare detached from the human mind. It has also become increasingly clear that the difficulties in finding biomarkers are caused by the fact that HT (1) cannot be easily measured in human beings; (2)is not clearly identified; (3) tends to vary between individuals and populations; (4) is not constant over time; and (5) may be the result of a failure to regain physiological homeostasis rather than a simple physiological response to stress. Such methodological, conceptual, diversity, dynamic and adjustment factors have all contributed to the difficulties in finding biomarkers of HT and they have made this kind of psychophysical research extremely complex. It is concluded that a more integrative bio-psycho-social explanatory model to the study of traumatization remains more viable than the pure neurobiological one.

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