Interdisciplinary Holocaustic Trauma Research Sociology Essay Example
Interdisciplinary Holocaustic Trauma Research Sociology Essay Example

Interdisciplinary Holocaustic Trauma Research Sociology Essay Example

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  • Pages: 16 (4225 words)
  • Published: August 19, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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Numerous studies have indicated that individuals who survive brutal wars resulting in cultural cleansing endure severe physical and mental damage (Fisher, 2010; Herman, 1992; Mertus, 2000; Rossi, 2002; Sjoo & Mor, 1992). However, there is a dearth of research on the victimization of women in these circumstances. The trauma suffered by women has significant implications for their gender experiences, motherhood, societal expectations, and even their menstrual cycles - a vital biological process for population reproduction (Campbell, 1992; Knight, 1987; Totten, 2009). This research gap pertains to two groups of South Slavic Muslim women from Ahmica-Vitez and Novi Travnik in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Although there is a gender bias in the development of bodily psychological practices, analyzing the impact of female-specific victimization on adult females can provide valuable information for theory and physical psychological interv


entions. This can include focusing on traumatic memory to treat injuries neurobiologically. The present study aims to examine how traumatic experiences during the Bosnian conflict affect the menstrual cycles of female survivors. A quasi-experimental approach paired with quantitative analysis will be used to determine the extent of the impact of war trauma on menstruation and identify any regional differences in its effects.

The Impact of Holocaustic Trauma on the Menstrual Cycles of South Slavic Muslim Women

While the field of bodily psychology questions the significance of the "body" in theory and practice, it has shown a gender bias in its development. Female bodies, in particular, have been of interest in bodily psychology research. However, much research has focused on male bodies due to the assumption that men and women have similar bodies. This may be partly due to the predominance of male researchers envisioning the generic

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human as male.

Research suggests that female biological processes, including menstruation, can influence how women perceive their environment and experiences. Studies have found that women may feel pain when exposed to unpleasant images during menstruation (Rhudy; Bartley, 2010). This connection between pain perception during menstruation and negative experiences implies that women who have undergone traumatic events, such as two groups of South Slavic Muslim women from Bosnia-Herzegovina, may experience even more discomfort, complaints, and illnesses during their menstrual cycle. It is important to note that menstruation occurs in 51% of the global population (females), but there is limited research on how trauma affects this biological process.

The discussion among survivors of the South Slavic war revolves around the physical and emotional toll that the conflict has taken, particularly on women's bodies and minds. They posit that women's menstrual cycles and menopause have been negatively affected by the war. To gain a deeper understanding of how war trauma impacts female biology, especially menstruation, it is crucial to examine the experiences of South Slavic Muslim women who have endured traumatic events. This necessitates an interdisciplinary approach in order to investigate the psychosomatic mechanisms through which traumatic events influence menstruation. The research will explore how holocaustic trauma has impacted the menstrual rhythms of these war survivors, drawing from various fields such as anthropology, neuroscience, somatic psychology, and perinatology to establish a connection between trauma and menstruation.The significance of understanding the intangible heritage of South Slavic women in their traditional societies is highlighted in this text. The author's personal experience with female survivors from South Slavic regions has contributed to their comprehension of how unwritten traditions and traumatic experiences impact educational

practices. To enhance this understanding, the study aims to examine South Slavic unwritten traditions from a bodily psychological perspective, supported by anthropological and neuroscientific evidence. This data is crucial for cross-cultural research and adopting a gender-holistic approach.

Despite the global attention given to the Balkan War, female survivors in Bosnia-Herzegovina have not received much recognition. Nevertheless, it is vital to acknowledge that women play a fundamental role in sustaining life within a country, both through reproduction and transmitting intangible heritage to future generations. Ester Harding (1997), a Jungian analyst, argues that people today, particularly adult women, lack strong connections with nature or fear responses necessary for survival in an era of devastating global harm (Fromm, 1973; Vlachova & Biason, 2004; Wilson, 1984).

According to Vlachova and Biason (2004), the book they wrote based on a United Nations study explores the concept of the "slaughter of Eve," a tragic gendercide that has significant implications for humanity's survival (as cited in Christie & Pim, 2012, p. 270). Additionally, Olujic (1998) argued that gendered violence is not only prevalent during war but also persists during times of peace.

The current literature overlooks and excludes biological processes specific to females, such as menstruation, and also fails to acknowledge the connections and interdependencies that arise from women's social groups, like the South Slavic subsisters (Christie; A; Pim, 2012).

War crimes have distinct impacts on females compared to males. These impacts include sexual victimization and survival rates affected by physical injury. For instance, a study conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Trauma Center examined how shock and trauma events had different effects on males and females (George et al., 2003). This study expanded

upon previous research conducted on female rodents in order to investigate their ability to endure the detrimental consequences of injury. The findings revealed that female rodents demonstrated a higher survival rate than males.

According to a follow-up survey conducted at the Trauma Center, it was discovered that males over 50 with blunt injuries had a 2.5% higher risk of death compared to females in the same situation. This suggests that women above 50 had better survival rates (George et al., 2003). The survey highlights how trauma affects genders differently.

This current study focuses on two specific groups of women from Bosnia-Herzegovina to examine how war injuries impact female biological processes. Since March 1999, the author has been providing physical and psychological injury treatment and training to these two groups of females from the South Slavic region.

The first group of adult females is from Ahmica-Vitez, a rural small town where war offenses were committed by the Croatian military upon a Muslim enclave on April 16, 1993 ( United Nations, 2001 ) . The 2nd group of adult females lived merely two kilometres off in Novi Travnik, a small town that one time housed a little weaponries mill that operated before the war. Both of these communities had distinguishable pre-war boundaries spliting the Croatian and Muslim populations. The adult females in these communities survived a bequest affecting a century of war and holocaust ( WWI, WWII, and the Balkan War ) .

The writer stressed the need to focus on injury intervention and training for individuals from different cultures and genders. It was pointed out that there is a lack of clarity regarding the impact of war experiences and menstrual

cycles on women's quality of life. Several sources (Mertus, 2000; Stiglmayer, 1993; Totten, 2009) highlight the importance of researching the mistreatment suffered by these two groups in order to address common issues faced by professionals working in this field (Johnson & Grand, 1998, p.15). Previous neglect in studying the effects of war trauma and menstruation makes it uncertain how traumatic experiences may have affected women's menstrual cycles (Herman, 1992; Knight, 1991; Knight, Power ; Watts, 1995; Mertus, 2000; Schulz, 2005).

When examining this population, there are multiple challenges that must be overcome. Initially, data collection is hindered by a cultural taboo among both Muslims and Bosnians. Furthermore, the marginalized status of women globally has led to their neglect in studies regarding war, genocide, and menstruation. Additionally, statistics on indirect harm during wars mostly involve invisible women who constitute the majority (Campbell, 2002; Mertus, 2000; Totten, 2009; Vlachova & Biason, 2004). To gain a better understanding and improve the lives of these women, it is crucial to address these obstacles. The impact of war on cultural traditions is substantial as violent conflicts and wars specifically target the homes of numerous civilians - as exemplified by the South Slavic war crimes and their survivors.

Roberts (1999) recorded the collateral harm in Kosovo on March 23rd, 1999, which is referred to as indirect harm. By March 1999, Roberts estimated that there were 260,000 internally displaced individuals (IDP) and a minimum of 100,000 refugees and refuge searchers in the region. The Humanitarianism and War Project by Mertus (2000) provides the most comprehensive depiction of indirect harm. According to Mertus, the number of displaced individuals and refugees consists of 75-80% women and

their children who are at risk due to the war and have either fled or have been forcibly removed from their homes.

The current research focuses on South Slavic Muslim female survivors of the Balkan War, who have experienced collateral harm. Displacement of women and children from their original regions puts their cultural traditions at risk of being lost. Intangible heritage, cultural traditions, and practices hold significance and energy for a group of people (Johnson; Grand, 1998; Siegel, 2008). Neuroscientists recognize the brain, our neurological network, as a system of information and energy (Siegel, 2008; Rossi, 2002).

Recent findings in neuroscience have allowed us to comprehend the connection between cultural and cultural traditions and our neurological and biological processes (Hanson & Mendius, 2009). By studying the intangible heritage and cultural traditions of South Slavic women, which is a symbolic logic (Knight, 1987), we can gain a better understanding of how menstrual patterns are ingrained in their culture, thus influencing psychological patterns. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that violent struggles, wars, and natural disasters have a profound impact on women's daily lives, including menstruation (Roberts, 1999). This emphasizes the importance of focusing on these aspects of intangible heritage and the daily lives of women.

Normal menstruation functioning is crucial for optimal perinatal and gestation outcomes (Murray et al., 2008). As menstruation is a natural process, it is possible that fear and neurological responses to trauma can have significant effects on women's menstrual rhythms, with potential evolutionary implications (Herman, 1992; Rossi, 2002; Siegel, 2010). This raises questions about the circumstances that can cause alterations in menstrual rhythms and the involved mechanisms, such as epigenetics and transgenerational memory patterns observed

in South Slavic women (Jablonka & Raz, 2009; Olujic, 1998). Research by Rhudy and Bartley (2010) showed that when women who were in different stages of their menstrual cycles were exposed to unpleasant images, their perception of pain was intensified.

The survey conducted on healthy adult females raised questions about the perception of pain and negative effects during menstruation for women who have experienced wartime events. Specifically, it examined how South Slavic women's pain may be influenced by their memories and mental images of genocide/gynocide, rapes, torture, and violence from the Balkan War. The study aims to create a database that can be utilized in future testing of this hypothesis. The research is driven by Wilhelm Reich's initial exploration of the close connection between menstruation and traumatic experiences. Reich found that the body has the ability to recall past experiences, prompting an interdisciplinary approach to studying the impact of trauma on menstruation (Hanna, 1970; Johnson & Grand, 1998).

According to a survey conducted by Liu, Han, Xiao, Ma, and Chen (2010), the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake had a significant impact on women's menstrual cycles. The study found that there was an increase in the prevalence of menstrual disorders among women after the earthquake. Before the earthquake, 26.5% of women experienced menstrual disorders, but this number rose to 51.8% afterwards.

The earthquake also affected women's reproductive desires. Among female survivors surveyed, 89.4% expressed a lack of desire to become pregnant and 67.1% stated they would consider seeking abortion if they became pregnant.

This assessment highlights the importance of implementing measures and policies to address the reproductive health needs of women affected by large-scale disasters.

Similarly, women who survive war also warrant comparable

interventions and/or restrictions following acts of war and injury. The present study aims to examine the underlying causes of the impact of war injuries on women's menstrual cycles, drawing from extensive research that suggests significant repercussions during past and contemporary conflicts. Menstruation during World War II was examined primarily in relation to large-scale casualties, particularly regarding the Nazi agenda to create a superior Aryan race.

The lack of discussion concerning women's ability to menstruate and their vulnerability to injury is evident in medical research conducted during times of mass violence and war, such as the Balkan War rape camps. The absence of empirical evidence regarding the taboo topic of menstruation in historical accounts of wartime events aligns with the lack of research on the impact of injury on menstruation, despite its relevance in genocidal and misogynistic attacks. Adolf Hitler's publication Mein Kampf highlights the understanding of menstruation's role in racial cleansing and misogynistic warfare, advocating for sterilization as a means to control nature through women's biology. (Lifton, 2000; Stiglmayer, 1993)

During World War II, the Nazi regime carried out sterilization methods that heavily relied on the study of menstruation and female hormones. A Nazi gynecologist named Carl Clauberg collaborated with Shering-Kahlbaum to develop treatments for female infertility. Clauberg's facility, called the "City of Mothers," aimed to create a superior race by exploiting knowledge of female biology and menstrual cycles. This disregard for women and their bodies was not uncommon in the context of horrific research conducted during the Holocaust (Lifton, 2000; Kaupen-Haas, 1988).

Research on the Judaic Holocaust of WWII has included limited information on adult females (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2011). While Ringelblum discussed the neglect of

female holocaust experiences after WWII, it was only later that the specific injuries related to gender and reproduction were explored (as cited in Totten, 2009, p. 4).

Macel's research focused on the consequences of war on women's daily lives. This includes the detrimental effects of mass rapes and conflicts during post-conflict periods (as cited in Totten, 2009, p. 83-107). Similarly, Mertus (2000) took a feminist perspective to highlight that gender-based violence is a deliberate strategy employed during war to force entire populations to flee. However, these studies overlook the impact of this trauma on menstruation (Mertus, 2000; Olujic, 1998; Totten, 2009).

Jansen (2006) emphasized that gender inequality can be more pronounced in times of conflict, with females being more vulnerable and experiencing greater impact on their well-being and mental health.

Menstruation and recent wars.

Recent studies have focused on understanding the effects of trauma on menstrual cycles. Doherty and Scannell-Desch (2012) conducted research on the health and experiences of women deployed to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars between 2003 and 2010. The study focused on nurses, considering their existing medical knowledge. Menstruation was examined in terms of how it affected their daily lives in a war zone, where nurses had to make decisions regarding whether to suppress their menstrual cycles due to hygiene and safety concerns related to enemy attacks or sexual assaults (Doherty & Scannell-Desch, 2012).

The survey conducted by the writers focused on the significant need for clinical services during and after deployment. A crucial aspect of the survey was exploring the experiences of adult women in combat situations, including their menstrual cycles. It was found that both physical and psychological trauma resulting from war-related violence against women

affects their menstrual cycles. Olujic ( 2008 ) highlighted that female bodies, particularly their reproductive processes, are exploited as weapons of war.

The RAM program was first developed in 1991 by Serbian forces. It is the initial documentation of the planned genocide and terrorization of Muslim females through rape camps (Logic, 2008). In Allen's (1996) book titled Rape Warfare, he describes a variation of the RAM Plan written by the army's special services, which includes experts in psychological warfare. The book provides a disturbing sociological explanation for the strategies of ethnic cleansing: By targeting the most vulnerable aspects of the Muslim communities' spiritual and social structures, such as women, especially teenagers, and children, their morale, willpower, and combative nature can be easily undermined. Intervening decisively on these social figures would cause confusion, fear, and eventually, terror, which could result in a possible withdrawal from the war-affected territories.

According to Allen (1996, location 899), it is estimated that between 20,000 to 50,000 South Slavic females, mostly targeting female Muslims, were raped during the Balkan War from 1991-1994 (Mertus, 2000; Stiglmayer, 1993). It is interesting to note that the patriarchal rule governing South Slavic women's capacity to bear children is linked to their cultural and ethnic identity. The RAM program had knowledge of menstruation. According to Logic (2008), "women were kept in the camps until they were seven months pregnant or more, making it too late for them to have an abortion" (p. 37). Additionally, Logic (2008) also reported a direct connection between South Slavic oral memory traditions and menstruation, stating that "these women were seen by society as being able to bear ethnically cleansed Serbian babies" (p. [include

missing page number here]).

According to Logic's research, other assisting assistance bureaus and the UN Blue Helmets visited countries with colza cantonments and suggested the use of a televised, club-like atmosphere for the women. In Meger's (2011) study on violence against women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it was mentioned that there are policies worldwide that view sexual violence as an effective and strategic weapon of war. Throughout history, genocidal rape has been employed to shame defeated groups and tarnish the lineages of the 'enemy' (as cited in Allen, 1996, location 60).

The lack of research on the connection between gynocidal rape and its impact on menstruation may be due to a lack of gendered studies examining female bodily processes (Campbell, 2002; Fisher, 2010; Knight, 1991). An important aspect of the genocidal rape camps in the former Yugoslavia was the understanding of hidden ovulation by the perpetrators. Consequently, rape camps were established to increase the chances of impregnation for female captives, further humiliating them (Allen, 1996; Mertus, 2000; Stiglmayer, 1993). However, Ellison (1994) concluded that extreme and violent environments can result in the shutdown of ovulation and menstruation in women; this likely occurred in the rape camps, leading to abortions or sterility.

According to a survey conducted by Liu et al. (2010), adult female survivors of the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008 may choose not to get pregnant and opt for the termination of pregnancy due to the devastating injury caused by the disaster. Traumatic events such as war and famine can affect ovulation and result in the cessation of menstruation (Baker, 1996; MacDonald, 1997). Ellison (1994) discovered that women in Zaire, Africa, experienced a stoppage of

their menstrual flow due to a lack of food. Food scarcity was widespread during the Balkan War and in Vitez-Ahmica, Travnik, and Novi Travnik, Bosnia, where communities were subjected to sniper attacks for an extended period of time.

The Zaire adult females in Ellison's (1994) survey exhibited decreased levels of Luteinizing hormone and a decreased occurrence of ovulation, indicating that menstruation is "the first casualty of a resource-deprived environment" (Campbell, 2002, p. 45). During the Balkan War, rape camps targeted not only younger women but also educated and highly esteemed older women, resulting in an impact on up to three generations of female caregivers (Allen, 1996; Mertus, 2000; Olujic, 1998). Thus, when examining the effects of trauma on menstruation, it is important to consider older women and take into account menopausal conditions. For instance, a study on menopause found that Australian menopausal women were more prone to feeling low mood in response to stressors during menopausal transition compared to when they were not in menopause (Murray et al.).

, 2008 ; Dinnerstein, Guthrie, ; A ; Clark, 2004 ) . These consequences clearly indicate that using such hormonal alterations may make women more susceptible to stressors during times of war.

Menstruation and mental health

When reviewing the literature, it is important to consider the fields of biology, neuroscience, and somatic psychology in order to identify potential relationships between prolonged war and trauma and menstrual changes ( Christie ; A ; Pim, 2012 ; Olujic, 1998 ) . Focusing on women and their fertility allows for a more comprehensive examination of variability in traumatized women's perceptions of menstruation ( Campbell, 2002 ; Totten, 2009

) . War trauma has been found to affect the physical, physiological, and autonomic nervous systems of individuals and the synchronization of women's cycles ( Knight, 1987 ; Mertus, 2000 ; Olujic, 2009 ) .

The traumatic emphasis experienced by refugees or survivors of war crimes, and the uncertainty they face during their journey, can intensify feelings of vulnerability (Mertus, 2000; Totten, 2009). These emotions can impact the biological processes involved in the menstrual cycle, and since stress is inherited in memory, it can affect future generations somatically and autonomically (Campbell, 2000; Herman, 1992; Ghost, 2011). In reality, trauma is a memory disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been extensively studied as a result of widespread exposure to the disorder following wars and other violent events.

In a study by Yehuda (2002) on the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, it was found that up to 35% of survivors were likely to develop PTSD. This condition is accompanied by various associated behaviors such as fear, weakness, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and substance abuse. Another study by Fisher (2003) revealed that autonomic responses, including increased levels of cortisol and heart rate, become habitual after traumatic events and can persist for days, months, or even years. These traumatic experiences also affect memory and result in unfinished neurobiological responses. Schulz (2005) explained that these experiences become ingrained in the brain and body's memory circuits, which can be triggered by a memory and manifest as physical symptoms of anxiety.

Research on the relationship between menses and injury is still lacking, although historical accounts have suggested a significant connection. Dr. Loeser's research from 1943 suggests that injury and PTSD

were not considered separate conditions, but rather a form of "shock." In an experiment involving four women who were being evaluated for potential trauma effects, Dr. Loeser compared the impact on menstruation to emotional shock, as both motor and glandular responses were affected, similar to sleep (Loeser, 1943). The four women underwent a biopsy, which revealed an endometrium that had stopped releasing hormones due to trauma.

Thus, it is implied that daze and injury have an impact on menstrual cycles and hormonal processes in females. Loeser's (1943) study was one of the earliest to investigate injury factors specifically related to menstruation in women. Hollifield et al. (2009) examined neurobiological responses and found that both Kurd and Vietnamese refugees exhibited similar correlations on the menstrual subscale. However, when the menstrual subscale was excluded from the data, the previous eight percent difference observed with the menstrual scale disappeared, indicating that menstruation was a driving factor in these correlations.

Interestingly, higher correlations were reported for the Kurds than Vietnamese in terms of neurology, hemorrhage, and skin esthesiss. However, Vietnamese showed stronger associations with PTSD/depression and posttraumatic exposure compared to Kurds. The catamenial graduated table did not show any link to war injury. This could be because the catamenial subscale had only two points out of 67 on the study instrument ( Hollifield et al. , 2009 ) . The study highlights significant correlations between the neurological system and the physical to autonomic procedures, which are often overlooked in trauma research.

Female depression has been found to be more severe during menstruation due to hormonal changes in the body. Steiner and Pearlstein (2000) have suggested that these changes may cause

abnormal signaling in the central nervous system, resulting in dysregulation of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) (Murray et al., 2008; O'Hara & Swain, 1996). Buist, Yonkers, and Craig (2002) and the World Health Organization (WHO) report that mental illness, including depression, is a significant issue affecting women's health.

According to experts, depression is predicted to be the leading cause of disability by 2020. Additionally, Buist, Barnett, and Milgrom (2002) highlighted the significant impact that a mother's role as the primary caregiver for infants can have on the physical and mental health of future generations. O'Hara and Swain (1996) suggest that there may be a genetic component to perinatal depression, and that premenstrual mood disorders may be linked to this genetic predisposition for depression (Borenstein, Dean, & Endicott, 2003).

The writer's inquiry on the variables of injury, specifically regarding holocaustic genocide/gynocide and its potential effects on menses, is aligned with the latter. Thus, trauma has been found to be intergenerational and transgenerational in the research population of this current survey, which consists of South Slavic Muslim females who have endured war offenses and are war survivors. It has also been observed that non-Western traditional civilizations, including those in the South Slavic region, typically possess more stable perinatal societal support structures that facilitate the transition to motherhood and emphasize the importance of maternity (Murray et al., 2008).

Despite a century of war history, the survivors of the South Slavic war are not only vulnerable to economic devastation but also face internal displacement, which will likely impact the available social support structures for perinatal care. Additionally, this situation may lead to gender-based punishment for babies, perpetuating intergenerational trauma

(Christie & Pim, 2011; Patel et al., 2002). Maternal fear resulting from violence and wars leaves a lasting impact on memory and has been observed to be transmitted during pregnancy (Mertus, 2000; Scharf, 2012; Shore, 2001). Richard Dawkins coined the term "culturgen," referring to the transmission of cultural patterns across generations as "memes," affecting our brain and neurological systems as "cultural consumers" (Campbell, 2002, p. 304-5, 307).

According to various studies (Fisher, 2010; Fosha, 2005; Scharf, 2012; Shore, 2001), the transmission of culturgens through memory and cross-cultural unwritten traditions can potentially result in epigenetic transmission of war experiences. This transmission is linked to the relationship between the neurological systems and the physiology of female biological science. It has been observed that stress caused by violence can lead to disparities in the neurological development of children and increase the likelihood of mental health challenges in the future. The impact of physiological stress responses on anxiety levels was highlighted in a study involving 5,000 Israeli women who gave birth during the Yom Kippur war; it was found that there was a higher number of preterm births in this group (McCubbin, 1996). Overall, these findings suggest a correlation between anxiety and the effects of physiological stress responses.

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