Psychic Wounds from the Past: Investigating Intergenerational Trauma in the Families of Japanese Americans Interned in the Honouliuli Internment and POW Camp
The Japanese Americans hold a distinct place in the pages of US history. Many immigrated to the United States from Japan in search of prosperity and a better future for their families. Enduring years of hard work and living in hostile conditions, the Japanese Americans who chose to remain in the United States put their trust in the democratic system of this country. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor this trust was shattered, as the Japanese Americans suffered from not only a loss of their constitutional rights, but one of the worst crimes against civil liberties in the history of the United States. More than 120,000 Japanese Americans were ordered to leave their home and relocate to internment camps under armed guard. The psychological effects of the internment have been well documented, with the impact of the trauma generated by the event affecting generations of Japanese Americans.
This paper examines the intergenerational effects of trauma, through the lens of the historical trauma theory, on three families who had a family member that was interned at the Honouliuli Camp during World War II. Their experiences were compared and contrasted to what has been written about families who were interned in camps on the continental United States. The Honouliuli Camp provides a unique opportunity to investigate the psychological sequelae resulting from interning a small fraction of the total Japanese American population in Hawai'i, and provides more insight into the deleterious effects of civil injustice.
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