Family stories and critical life events: a trans-generational analysis of family violence
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AbstractThis exploratory study explored the trans-generational relationships between 14 families who had backgrounds of family violence on three narrative tasks: Family Story, Critical Life Events: High Point, and Critical Life Events: Low Point. Levels of psychological distress were measured using the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) for the mothers and the Behaviour Assessment System for Children (BASC) for the children. Psychological distress in both generations was compared to the narrative constructs of coherence for the mothers, and redemption and contamination for both mothers and children (Baerger & McAdams, 1999; McAdams & Bowman, 2001 ). Story content was also investigated, including the presence of family violence, generational boundary violations and thematic content. Gender differences were also explored. Results indicated that depression and psychoticism negatively impact the ability to generate redemption sequences in parents. For children, symptoms such as conduct problems and internalizing behaviours were also significantly related to the generation of redemption and contamination sequences. In addition, redemption sequences in the low point story were significantly related across generations. Contrary to Bearger and McAdams' (1999) findings there were no significant relationships between psychological distress and narrative coherence. Story content analyses revealed a high proportion of the families shared themes across generations. In addition, it appeared that the boys shared more themes of loss, while the girls were more likely to share interpretive type themes. These findings offer many avenues for future research into the cycle of family violence in a narrative context.
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