Chenyan Zhou

Date of Award


First Advisor

Anne O'Dwyer

Second Advisor

Jan Hutchinson


Traumatic events can occur at any time and for any individual, and accidents, wars, extreme cultural upheavals, natural disasters, and childhood neglect are all examples of the many events that are considered traumatic. Psychologists have long recognized that trauma can have immediate and long-term negative effects on individuals’ well-being, including in the realms of feeling of safety and in interpersonal relationships. Much of the work in this area, to date, has focused on the effects of trauma on those who directly experience the traumatic event or events. However, in recent years, there has been an increasing interest in the transmissions of trauma between generations, and a considerable body of literature--particularly in Western psychological theory and practice--has emerged, examining the theme of “ intergenerational trauma”. This study explored how second- and third-generation survivors of trauma--specifically traumatic events in the mid-to-late twentieth century in China--might be affected by these events. As part of this project, 28 participants--all whose parents and/or grandparents grew up during the years when large-scale traumatic events occurred in China--were interviewed and asked to share their family stories to help to create a picture of survivors’ understandings about how their lifestyle and ideas were shaped during these tough periods. Findings from the interviews are discussed in light of the common symptoms of the survivors and their family members and directions for future research are proposed.

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