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Title: It's been bitter-sweet : experiences of motherhood for women with long-term mental health problems
Author: Higgins, Harriet
ISNI:       0000 0004 2698 4554
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2004
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In this thesis I present the findings from an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) of the experiences of motherhood for women with long-term mental health problems. An overview of the literature on women with long-term mental health problems suggests that they have often been overlooked by researchers and policy makers. Research has tended to focus on the impact of their mothering on children, and it is argued that there has not been an adequate focus on their experiences of motherhood. I will examine literature outlining discrimination against mothers with mental health problems, and this will be considered in the contexts of their mental health, identity and services. It is suggested that there is a need for a study, using a UK sample, that will contribute to a more complex understandings of the women's' experiences of motherhood from their own perspective. An account is provided of theoretical and procedural issues associated with qualitative research and IPA. I then go on to present an analysis of the interviews of seven participants, who are mothers with long-term mental health problems. Six themes emerged from the accounts that provide a greater understanding of women with long-term mental health problems experiences of motherhood, and in particular the impact of their experiences on the sense they make of their identity. The analysis suggested that the women's sense of themselves as 'normal' mothers felt under threat from a number of different sources, such as an awareness of others negative perceptions of them, the impact of their problems on their children and through comparison of themselves to their own mothers. It was suggested that examples of this sense off threat to their identity were evident in their emphasis on their sense of similarity to other mothers, being different to neglectful mothers, their 'hyper-normality', other aspects of their identity and future selves, and distancing from other service users. At the same time it was also suggested that these examples could indicate a questioning and resistance to others perceptions of them as not being 'normal'. The women also gave accounts of experiences of powerlessness, as a result for example, of difficult social and economic circumstances. A reflexive critical review of the research is considered. Finally the implications of this study are discussed and suggestions made regarding the development of future services.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: D Clin Psych Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available