Identification of vulnerability to psychological difficulties in second generation South Asian women
Existing studies suggest that the high rates of mental health problems among second generation or UK born Asians are due to "culture conflict", that is, the idea that individuals are stuck between two incompatible cultures. The aim of this study was to explore how the experience of being raised in both Asian and native British culture impacts upon the mental health of second generation Asian women. Thirty women participated in this study and were categorised into two groups (clinical vs. non-clinical) according to 'caseness', which was determined on the basis of a screening questionnaire, the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ- 12; Goldberg, 1972). A more detailed psychological profile of participants was provided using the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI; Derogatis and Melisaratos, 1983). These groups were compared on a range of identity parameters drawn from Identity Structure Analysis (ISA; Weinreich, 1979,1980), which is a meta-theoretical framework designed to investigate cultural identity and acculturation. The results indicated that both the clinical and non-clinical groups identified closely with Asian and native British culture, which suggests that both groups viewed themselves as being bicultural. There were no differences between the groups in the extent to which they wished to dissociate from the values of their parents and representatives of Asian culture. The clinical group were significantly more likely to view fathers and first generation Asian females as having some qualities which they identified with and some which they wished to dissociate from, thereby creating a conflictual state (identification conflicts), than the non-clinical group. When these identification conflicts were considered across a range of significant others (identity diffusion), there was no difference between the groups. Identity diffusion was positively correlated with some of the BSI symptom dimensions for the clinical group and negatively correlated for the non-clinical group. The results imply that even women who consider themselves to be bicultural experience psychological distress, which is in contrast with much of the literature. The results also suggest that potential psychological stressors include the experience of integrating the conflicting demands of home and wider society. When identifications with a range of significant others were highly conflictual in nature this was associated with a negative effect on one's sense of well-being, however when this was experienced to a milder degree it appeared to serve as a trigger for identity development.