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Heroin Addiction and Longing to Belong

Paine, J. (2009). Heroin Addiction and Longing to Belong. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This study explores the lived experience of being parented in childhood and adolescence in individuals with a long history of heroin/crack cocaine dependence. This investigation uses attachment theory (Ainsworth & Bowlby, 1991; Bowlby, 1969, 1973, 1980) as a central pillar of the explanatory framework, while also drawing upon psychodynamic concepts to illuminate and interpret participants' narratives. The avowed aim of this research is to contribute towards a psychodynamic phenomenology of parental relationships in childhood, and in particular that of the mother-child dyad. The study also endeavours to begin to make up for the paucity of studies about the relationship between attachment and heroin addiction, while using a constructivist-interpretative epistemological position to examine how individuals' early life experiences may shape and influence them through later life. In this study, a clinical sample of six individuals stabilised on a low-dose methadone maintenance programme underwent three separate interviews, and analysis was conducted using interpretative phenomenological analysis. This focused on emergent themes, retaining a strong epistemological commitment to interpretations firmly embedded in the data. Three major themes emerged: 'I was always the outsider', and perceptions of not fitting in socially or with family; 'I wanted an ordinary mum and got Supermum', and the notion of a mother who was not mentally attuned with the growing child; and 'my search for a new, improved sense of self, where the child attempts to extinguish their negative self-image. These findings are then discussed, using theoretical literature as explanatory support, in an attempt to improve our understanding of the experience of being parented in a child who went on to
become a heroin addict.

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