Psychological vulnerability and resilience of Holocaust survivors engaged in creative art

Shira Diamond, Amit Shrira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Although evidence demonstrates that engagement in art promotes favorable coping with trauma, this subject is underexplored among Holocaust survivors. Thus, the present study explored whether Holocaust survivors engaged in art differed from survivors not engaged in art in various markers of psychological vulnerability and resilience. The study further included non-Holocaust survivor comparisons, some engaged in art and some not, in order to assess whether engagement in art among Holocaust survivors relates to a unique psychological profile beyond art engagement in general. A sample of 154 community-dwelling older adults (mean age = 81.67, SD = 5.33, range = 73–97) reported exposure to the Holocaust, current engagement in art, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, general psychological distress, resilience and subjective perceptions of age and aging. Holocaust survivors (regardless of whether they engaged in art or not) reported higher PTSD symptoms relative to comparisons. However, Holocaust survivors who engaged in art reported higher resilience than all other groups (survivors not engaged in art and comparisons engaged and not engaged in art). To the best of our knowledge, these findings are the first quantitative evidence pointing toward a link between engagement in art and positive coping with the Holocaust. These findings have important implications for clinicians working with Holocaust survivors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-243
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry Research
StatePublished - Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • Engagement in art
  • Holocaust survivors
  • PTSD
  • Perceptions of aging
  • Resilience


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