Grieving for the ‘ghost’ of an unknown sibling: an interpretative phenomenological analysis of the transmission of trauma across generations

Çabuk, Onur Can
Transgenerational trauma is a psychological term asserting that trauma can be transferred across generations. Traumatic loss and grief have important roles in the mechanism of transgenerational trauma. The grief after a child loss may not be resolved in a reasonable time and may continue to affect parents after the birth of other children. The current study aimedto examine the transgenerational transmission of grief in adult children, whose parents lost their first child. This study also focused on the personal experiences of them. Due to the subjectivity of grief, generalized formulations may not be useful in understanding the transgenerational grief. Therefore, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), a qualitative research approach, was utilized in this study. The participants were three males and three females aged between 22 to 34. Data were collected through semi-structured, in-depth, and one-on-one interviews, and analyzed through IPA. According to the results of the analysis, six themes were constructed: (1) remembering the dark side of a rosy childhood, (2) perceived parenting quality attributed to the loss: compensatory parenting, (3) the ghost in the home, (4) alive child’s emotions related to the loss: anger and guilt in the shadow, (5) responsibilities as the heritage from the past of the family, and (6) the unmet needs of the alive child and the unfulfilled duties of the lost brother. Considering all themes together, this study showed that adult children experienced their parents’ unresolved grief through the transmission of silence, burden, and lack in the family.


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Stressful life events leading to traumatic reactions are noteworthy, and trauma studies generally consider one traumatic event which an individual experienced recently or affected most dramatically. However, cumulative impacts of traumas are also necessary to focus especially in the cultures in which traumatic events are common. The main aim of the current study is to adapt the Cumulative Trauma Scale-Short Form (CTS-S) into Turkish and to investigate its psychometric properties to use in trauma-related res...
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Individuals with a history of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) tend to have altered pain perception and difficulty in regulating their emotions. Previous work on NSSI has relied heavily on retrospective self-report data and clinical Western samples. The present study explored pain perception, emotional reactivity, distress tolerance and self-compassion in a sample of non-clinical Turkish young adults with and without a history of self-injury by employing a multi-method, laboratory-based design. Participants ...
Citation Formats
O. C. Çabuk, “Grieving for the ‘ghost’ of an unknown sibling: an interpretative phenomenological analysis of the transmission of trauma across generations,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2020.