Letter published in the Newburyport News, Massachusetts, by Steve Ludsin of R&R
Very moving’ article about local author’s book, Oct 12, 2017
To the editor:
The article “Local author writes about Holocaust through her father’s eyes” by Dyke Hendrickson, [Daily News, Oct. 10] was very moving. It is true that for many Jews with a European background, the past is never the past.
Margaret A. McQuillan’s recent book, “An Orange in Winter: The Beginning of the Holocaust as Seen Through the Eyes of a Child“, written about a child who was her father was an emotional challenge. I am also a child of a Holocaust survivor and I know the additional stress that can create. I have begun to explore the studies about the possible inheritance of post-traumatic stress syndrome through the DNA from the traumatized parent.
The need to remember the evil of the Holocaust is self-evident, particularly when there is a tendency to forget and in the face of the heated rhetoric from the alt-right movement. I think the author’s goal to portray oppression eight decades ago to young people today will help to rebut the threatening words of people who exclaim you will not replace us with chants of “Blood and soil”. The flame of remembrance should not be extinguished.
Steven A. Ludsin, East Hampton, N.Y. The writer was a member of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust and the first U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council that built the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
Comment from D. Posnett MD:
The medical and psychology literature is replete with studies on the epigenetic effects of post-traumatic stress syndrome, which can be inherited. In lay language: DNA (inheritance of specific genes) is the Christmas tree, while “epigenetics” is the decorations we put on the tree. Curiously, there is mounting evidence that sometimes these decorations become part of the tree itself and subsequent generations of the trees grow with the decorations!!!
A PubMed search for “epigenetics post-traumatic stress syndrome” came up with 48 articles, 27 of them were reviews.
- The epigenetic impacts of social stress: how does social adversity become biologically embedded? Cunliffe VT. Epigenomics. 2016 Dec;8(12):1653-1669. Epub 2016 Nov 21.
- Epigenetic Alterations Associated with War Trauma and Childhood Maltreatment. Ramo-Fernández L, Schneider A, Wilker S, Kolassa IT. Behav Sci Law. 2015 Oct;33(5):701-21.