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Women's Stories of Emotional Distress, Relational Experiences and Sense-making: Listening in a Different Way

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Alice Pettitt
Publication date16/08/2018
Number of pages207
Awarding Institution
  • Hodge, Suzanne, Supervisor
  • Proctor, Gillian, Supervisor, External person
Place of PublicationLancaster
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


A meta-synthesis was conducted to examine the impact of maternal mental health
difficulties on the mother-daughter relationship. Nine studies were synthesised which resulted
in the development of seven themes. The findings indicated the ways in which maternal
mental health difficulties can disrupt the attachment relationship between mother and child.
Contextual factors relating to shame, discrimination and marginalisation were also identified,
but did not appear to hold the same prominence in the women’s stories. As part of the
discussion, the author considered how societal expectations about the roles of mothers and
daughters might have affected the participants’ experience of relating to their mother.
The research project explored the voices of women who have received a diagnosis of
borderline personality disorder (BPD). The voice centred relational method (VRM) was used
to listen to the many different and co-existing voices the women used to describe their
experiences of distress and the ways in which they made sense of it. The ten voices identified
highlighted complex relational dynamics linking to power, blame and shame at an individual
and systemic level. Suggestions were made for resistance at both a practice and political
level, to challenge the abuse of power and the oppressive practices that continue to silence
women by invalidating the multiple ways in which they understand their life experiences.
Finally, the critical appraisal considered the role of power and reflexivity within the
research project. The author reflected on the ways in which conducting this project and
engaging in these issues had shaped her current clinical practice.