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A study of the narratives of adults who grew up with seriously mentally distressed parents.

Cowie, Z., 2018. A study of the narratives of adults who grew up with seriously mentally distressed parents. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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COWIE, Zoe_Ph.D._2017_v2.pdf



Despite the advancement of knowledge and understanding about the experiences of mental health service users which has been attained over the last decade or so, most of the ‘carer’ literature in the UK and worldwide, relates to parental or spousal experience. There is also a growing body of work which is addressing the experiences of young carers. In the UK however there is a complete absence of research into the experiences of adult children of parents with severe mental distress. Worldwide there are just a few examples. This study was therefore designed to help break the silence. Seven participants, who identified themselves as having a seriously mentally ill parent, were recruited for this study. Each person was interviewed with no pre-set agenda. Participants were asked to tell their stories in any way they wished. With an underpinning social constructionist philosophy the resulting narratives were analysed using the ‘holistic content’ dimension of the framework offered by Lieblich et al (1998). This means that the stories can be seen as saying something depending upon where in the narrative they were presented. The findings are discussed using the metaphor of the ‘rollercoaster’ which was used with some regularity in the narratives. The themes which first emerged are presented in “Hold on tight the ride is about to begin”. This theme is primarily about the shock, role changes and silence which surrounds the family. As the stories progress, “The Ride” begins, and details various traumas and losses, with particular attention paid to relational trauma. The final part of the discussion; “It’s stopped for a moment” offers insights into the reflections and meaning made by the participants in the intermittent spaces when the ride had slowed sufficiently to allow time to think, before it resumed its repetitive circular motion. The findings and discussion of this research form a platform in the UK, which does not currently exist, but which, it is hoped, will provoke discussion and arouse interest.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Uncontrolled Keywords:children; adults; offspring; mental health; illness; distress
Group:Faculty of Health & Social Sciences
ID Code:31259
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:20 Sep 2018 12:56
Last Modified:09 Aug 2022 16:04


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