Corresponding Author Information: Juliana Genovese

Session Abstract: BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Research on intergenerational transmission of parental trauma shows mediating effects of insecure paternal attachment on young adult's trauma symptomology irrespective personal traumas (Spiel & Szymanski, 2018). Lapsley et al. (1990) assessed three characteristics of parental attachment -communication, alienation and trust- and found that all predicted emotional adjustment to college. Utilizing Spiel and Szymanski's data, this study addresses the separate mediating effects of parental trust, communication and alienation in the intergenerational transmission of parental traumas and young adult children trauma symptoms.

SUBJECTS: This archival study utilized a data collected from 987 undergraduates with mean age 19.15 (SD=1.64). 65.9% of participants were women, and 44.6% reported parental trauma history.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: The following measures were administered online (in randomized order): Caregiver Stressful Life Events Screening Questionnaire; Stressful Life Events Screening Questionnaire; Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment: Communication, Alienation and Trust; Posttraumatic Checklist-5 (PCL-5).

ANALYSES: Hayes PROCESS model was used for the mediation analysis, controlling for participants' trauma.

RESULTS: The results showed full mediation of Paternal Communication in the relationship between parental trauma and PTSD-Total for both genders (females c' path, b= 13.54, t(650)= .59 , p=.56; males c' path, b= -42.96, t(335)= -1.24, p= .21). The same was found for all PCL-5 Clusters. High Paternal Alienation fully mediated relationship between parental trauma and PTSD-Total for females (c' path, b= 25.20, t(650)= 1.15, p=.25) but not for males. The same was found for all PCL-5 Clusters. Maternal attachment characteristics were not significant in mediation analysis.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrate the impact of paternal attachment characteristics (but not maternal) in intergenerational transmission of trauma. Poor paternal communication seems crucial for young adult children trauma symptomatology related to parental trauma. For females, paternal alienation is also another mechanism for intergenerational transmission. Thus, it is father's difficulty with communicating and lack of closeness (for female children) that mediates a relationship between wide range of parental traumas and adult children psychopathology. Clinical implications of these findings are discussed.


Juliana Genovese | Adelphi University, Garden City, New York

Kate Szymanski | Adelphi University, Garden City, NY

Bernard Gorman | Adelphi University, Garden City, NY

Shira Spiel | Adelphi University, Garden City, NY

Juliana GenoveseJuliana Genovese

Juliana Genovese is a third-year clinical psychology doctoral student at The Derner School of Psychology. She received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and English from Skidmore College and a master’s degree in General Psychology from Adelphi University. Juliana is currently pursuing research on gender differences in shame and trauma under the direction of Dr. Kate Szymanski.

Juliana has an enriched clinical background, interning twice at Jamaica Hospital’s inpatient psychiatry unit. She has also completed an externship at the St. Albans VA, and is currently a neuropsychology extern at Nassau University Medical Center.

Dr. Kate Szymanski

Kate Szymanski, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor at the Gordon F. Derner School of Psychology at Adelphi University. She is a clinical and research supervisor in the Ph.D. Program in the Clinical Psychology, and she also teaches in the Postgraduate Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. Dr. Szymanski’s interests concentrate on a wide range of acute and chronic traumas, and their impacts on family environments. She is particularly interested in loss, illness, grief, and resilience. Dr. Szymanski has presented her work at a number of national and international conferences, and published numerous journal articles and book chapters. She is co-editor (with Stroinska and Cecchetto) of Expression of the Unspeakable: Narratives of Trauma. She has international clinical experience working with a wide range of populations. Dr. Szymanski has a private practice in Garden City, NY and specializes in trauma.

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