The Armenian Genocide and Its Intergenerational Effects

  • Khachatur Gasparyan
  • John Saroyan
Part of the Integrating Psychiatry and Primary Care book series (IPPC)


This chapter explores the impact of the 1915 Armenian Genocide on children’s mental health. Following the genocide, many adult and child survivors repressed their memories and tried to bury their trauma, focusing instead on self-preservation to help ensure the survival of future generations. This is important because the children and grandchildren of survivors may experience secondary trauma through communication within the family system. Intergenerational transmission of trauma has affected the offspring of these survivors and carries several mental health effects related to their parents’ and grandparents’ histories. All the survivors experienced severe, tangible loss, but even further, they experienced a form of ambiguous loss born out of the denial of this loss by the Turkish government. Unfortunately, ambiguous loss can be hard to move on from. Armenians from Armenia, as well as those from the diaspora, share a collective memory that continues to impact their approach to the world. This transmission of trauma, with linkages to more recent events in Armenia that include the 1988 earthquake and the 1988 war with Azerbaijan, is reviewed using research literature and case studies. Historical trauma has a “compounding effect” that causes further stress and anxiety for children currently experiencing the trauma of war. Addressing these children’s emotional needs is, thus, an important goal, and both family responses and professionally-implemented therapies have a positive role to play in achieving it.


Armenian Genocide Armenian massacre Diaspora Armenians Intergenerational transmission of trauma Transgenerational trauma Armenian mental health Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict 1988 Armenia Earthquake “Komitas” syndrome Expressive arts therapy 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Khachatur Gasparyan
    • 1
  • John Saroyan
    • 2
  1. 1.“Intra” Mental Health CenterYerevan State Medical UniversityYerevanArmenia
  2. 2.Pepperdine University Counseling Center in MalibuMalibuUSA

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