Walking in the Dark: The Experience of the Mother Whose Daughter has an Eating Disorder

2.50
Hdl Handle:
http://hdl.handle.net/10755/149412
Type:
Presentation
Title:
Walking in the Dark: The Experience of the Mother Whose Daughter has an Eating Disorder
Abstract:
Walking in the Dark: The Experience of the Mother Whose Daughter has an Eating Disorder
Conference Sponsor:Sigma Theta Tau International
Conference Year:2001
Conference Date:November 10 - 14, 2001
Author:Davis, Mitzi, PhD
P.I. Institution Name:University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Title:Associate Professor
Objective: the purpose of this study was to explore the experience of women whose daughters have been diagnosed with eating disorders (anorexia nervosa or bulimia). Family dynamics are thought to influence both the etiology and progress of eating disorders in girls and women. A substantial segment of the literature has focused on presumed pathology in the mother-daughter relationship. However, there has been a lack of research attention to the difficulties that may be experienced by the mother in dealing with her daughter’s eating disorder. Given the daughter’s resistance to treatment and self-destructiveness, it is logical to suspect that the mother’s ordeal may be prolonged. Little is known about what she may be perceiving and feeling. Design: So that stories of the mothers’ experience could freely unfold with direction by researchers, a phenomenological design was employed, following the procedure outlined by Thomas and Pollio. Sample: Nine mothers, recruited by word of mouth and snowball sampling, volunteered to participate. Mothers ranged in age from 36 to 60 years of age and daughters from 15-31 years. Exact duration of the eating disorder was hard for mothers to pinpoint, but ranged from less than 6 months to more than 15 years. All mothers but one (who was currently divorcing) were married to the father of the daughter with the eating disorder. Phenomenon of Interest: The phenomenon of interest in this study was the mother’s experience of her daughter’s eating disorder (anorexia nervosa or bulimia). Method and Procedure: Nondirective, in-depth phenomenological interviews were conducted, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed for meaning units and themes. Findings: Participants described the experience as a trajectory starting with initial suspicion of an eating disorder. Elements of this trajectory included seeking acknowledgment from others, assuming responsibility for “fixing it”, struggling to cope, and eventually relinquishing responsibility. Interrelated themes of anger, guilt, fear, and confusion/ineptness/helplessness characterized the mothers’ experience. Much of their anguish was kept secret from other people, so that mothers often felt they were “walking in the dark” with no guidance or support from professionals or other family members. Mothers tried to create rules, set limits, and establish consequences for their daughters’ behavior, but usual patterns of negotiation and interaction were impossible. The mother-daughter relationship could not evolve normally as the daughter grew older. Mothers feared both loss of the relationship and loss of the daughter through death. Conclusions: Mothers provided an intimate, sometimes brutally honest description of a most difficult experience. Their psychic organization, termed by Stern (1995) the “motherhood constellation”, was thrown into disarray. Their daughters’ starvation suggested failure to perform the most basic mothering function—that of properly feeding one’s child—with devastating result. Implications: Findings of this study, revealing the often-overlooked vantage point of the mother, can be used by nurses to recognize mothers’ distress and develop sensitive and supportive interventions to promote family healing.
Repository Posting Date:
26-Oct-2011
Date of Publication:
10-Nov-2001
Sponsors:
Sigma Theta Tau International

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.typePresentationen_GB
dc.titleWalking in the Dark: The Experience of the Mother Whose Daughter has an Eating Disorderen_GB
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10755/149412-
dc.description.abstract<table><tr><td colspan="2" class="item-title">Walking in the Dark: The Experience of the Mother Whose Daughter has an Eating Disorder</td></tr><tr class="item-sponsor"><td class="label">Conference Sponsor:</td><td class="value">Sigma Theta Tau International</td></tr><tr class="item-year"><td class="label">Conference Year:</td><td class="value">2001</td></tr><tr class="item-conference-date"><td class="label">Conference Date:</td><td class="value">November 10 - 14, 2001</td></tr><tr class="item-author"><td class="label">Author:</td><td class="value">Davis, Mitzi, PhD</td></tr><tr class="item-institute"><td class="label">P.I. Institution Name:</td><td class="value">University of Tennessee-Knoxville</td></tr><tr class="item-author-title"><td class="label">Title:</td><td class="value">Associate Professor</td></tr><tr class="item-email"><td class="label">Email:</td><td class="value">mwdavis@utk.edu</td></tr><tr><td colspan="2" class="item-abstract">Objective: the purpose of this study was to explore the experience of women whose daughters have been diagnosed with eating disorders (anorexia nervosa or bulimia). Family dynamics are thought to influence both the etiology and progress of eating disorders in girls and women. A substantial segment of the literature has focused on presumed pathology in the mother-daughter relationship. However, there has been a lack of research attention to the difficulties that may be experienced by the mother in dealing with her daughter&rsquo;s eating disorder. Given the daughter&rsquo;s resistance to treatment and self-destructiveness, it is logical to suspect that the mother&rsquo;s ordeal may be prolonged. Little is known about what she may be perceiving and feeling. Design: So that stories of the mothers&rsquo; experience could freely unfold with direction by researchers, a phenomenological design was employed, following the procedure outlined by Thomas and Pollio. Sample: Nine mothers, recruited by word of mouth and snowball sampling, volunteered to participate. Mothers ranged in age from 36 to 60 years of age and daughters from 15-31 years. Exact duration of the eating disorder was hard for mothers to pinpoint, but ranged from less than 6 months to more than 15 years. All mothers but one (who was currently divorcing) were married to the father of the daughter with the eating disorder. Phenomenon of Interest: The phenomenon of interest in this study was the mother&rsquo;s experience of her daughter&rsquo;s eating disorder (anorexia nervosa or bulimia). Method and Procedure: Nondirective, in-depth phenomenological interviews were conducted, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed for meaning units and themes. Findings: Participants described the experience as a trajectory starting with initial suspicion of an eating disorder. Elements of this trajectory included seeking acknowledgment from others, assuming responsibility for &ldquo;fixing it&rdquo;, struggling to cope, and eventually relinquishing responsibility. Interrelated themes of anger, guilt, fear, and confusion/ineptness/helplessness characterized the mothers&rsquo; experience. Much of their anguish was kept secret from other people, so that mothers often felt they were &ldquo;walking in the dark&rdquo; with no guidance or support from professionals or other family members. Mothers tried to create rules, set limits, and establish consequences for their daughters&rsquo; behavior, but usual patterns of negotiation and interaction were impossible. The mother-daughter relationship could not evolve normally as the daughter grew older. Mothers feared both loss of the relationship and loss of the daughter through death. Conclusions: Mothers provided an intimate, sometimes brutally honest description of a most difficult experience. Their psychic organization, termed by Stern (1995) the &ldquo;motherhood constellation&rdquo;, was thrown into disarray. Their daughters&rsquo; starvation suggested failure to perform the most basic mothering function&mdash;that of properly feeding one&rsquo;s child&mdash;with devastating result. Implications: Findings of this study, revealing the often-overlooked vantage point of the mother, can be used by nurses to recognize mothers&rsquo; distress and develop sensitive and supportive interventions to promote family healing.</td></tr></table>en_GB
dc.date.available2011-10-26T10:01:53Z-
dc.date.issued2001-11-10en_GB
dc.date.accessioned2011-10-26T10:01:53Z-
dc.description.sponsorshipSigma Theta Tau Internationalen_GB
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