Girls from Gush Katif protest Disengagement
Girls from Gush Katif protest DisengagementIsrael news photo: Flash 90

A study on the psychological effects of the 2005 “Disengagement” links post-trauma growth to faith and family. Researcher Dr. Lior Oren of the Ariel University Center spoke to Arutz Sheva's Hebrew news service about his study, which he plans to present Monday at a conference on the Family in the Eye of the Storn at Orot College in Jerusalem.

The two-part study showed that those who had family support and religious faith were most likely to experience personal growth in the years following the Disengagement, Oren explained. Those who had lived in Gaza prior to the Disengagement due solely to financial considerations were least likely to experience post-Disengagement growth.

The first part of the study, conducted shortly after the Disengagement, found that 40 percent of Jews expelled from Gaza and northern Samaria experienced some form of PTSD. The high level of trauma was particularly significant given the unusually low levels of trauma among Gaza's Jews prior to the Disengagement, despite the fact that they were subject to frequent terrorist attacks, Oren noted.

"The type of strength that helped people cope with terrorism did not help – and may even have been a hindrance – when it came to coping with the Disengagement,” he said.

The second half of the research was conducted in 2008, three years after the expulsion from Gaza. Expellees were asked to rate their level of personal growth since the Disengagement.

Post-trauma growth has increasingly been the subject of study in recent years, Oren explained. Researchers have found that those who live through traumatic experiences often describe personal growth in the years that follow, in areas such as their interpersonal relationships and their sense of having a wide variety of options in life.

Oren found that Gaza expellees reported moderate levels of personal growth. There are various possible reasons why growth was only moderate, he noted. One reason, cited by the expellees themselves, is that many expellees experience the Disengagement as an ongoing trauma, and not a one-time event, due to the fact that they still lack permanent housing.

Another reason may be the degree of trauma experienced. Previous research indicates that moderate trauma leads to the highest level of growth, Oren said. The Disengagement was extremely traumatic to parts of Israeli society who did not experience it themselves and more so to those who did.

The highest levels of growth were found in those who were expelled along with their families, and whose families were supportive in wake of the Disengagement, and among those who expressed a high level of faith.

"When their lives crumbled after the Disengagement, people found comfort in their internal support systems – faith and family,” Oren said. The results of the study show the need for a multi-faceted approach to trauma treatment, even when treating a single person, he concluded.