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Becoming and being a mother: reflections of the daughters of mothers who experienced enduring mental health difficulties

Gensale, A. (2016). Becoming and being a mother: reflections of the daughters of mothers who experienced enduring mental health difficulties. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Mental health research across the discipline of psychology has been extensive. Much research relating to motherhood has focussed on the mental health of mothers and increasingly on the impact of this upon the welfare of children. The focus in this study was on the narratives of these children when they themselves become mothers. The aim was to gain qualitative insight into these women’s experiences of mothering, and the role that they considered that their own childhood might play in their experiences as mothers. This qualitative study used Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to explore the experiences of nine mothers at various stages of their motherhood journey, who had experienced the ‘enduring mental health difficulties’ (EMHD) of their own mothers in their childhoods. The IPA analysis of semi-structured interviews revealed a complex interplay of themes. Narratives evolved across a natural timeline in which participants discussed their own journey as a mother over four main themes. They offered context from their childhood and also pre-pregnancy thought and experience, and presented their current sense of themselves as mothers and their reflections of their journey. This research offers further insights into some of the possible experiences and difficulties these daughters might face as mothers. It suggests that they may be particularly at risk of exhaustion and ensuing mental health issues, perhaps less because of the genetic factors that may be present, but more because of their desperation, in a global sense, to undo, or not to repeat their childhood experiences for their own children. Further research is needed not only into their struggles but into their incredible strengths as mothers, so that those to whom this research is most poignant can take inspiration from further accounts, and both therapists and society can best support daughters with this lived experience as children, as adults, and potentially as mothers.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
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