An empirical study of the diathesis-stress theory of disease
Date of this Version
In this study, we have looked at the long-term health effects of a type of stress probably more severe than any yet studied in this connection, namely being sent to a Hitlerian concentration camp, living there for a lengthy period of time, and having members of one's family killed. There are many written testimonies to the incredible sufferings of concentration camp inmates, and there can be no doubt about the high stress level imposed by starvation, torture, and the constant threat of death, combined with fear for the fate of loved ones. Theory would predict that such a high degree of stress would produce a high level of cancer and coronary heart disease, and our study was designed to test this hypothesis.