Unveiling the invisible: A narrative inquiry about the life of adults in Malta who grew up with a sibling diagnosed with a depressive or anxiety disorder

DProf thesis


Sammut Muscat, A. 2023. Unveiling the invisible: A narrative inquiry about the life of adults in Malta who grew up with a sibling diagnosed with a depressive or anxiety disorder. DProf thesis Middlesex University / New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling (NSPC) Psychology
TypeDProf thesis
TitleUnveiling the invisible: A narrative inquiry about the life of adults in Malta who grew up with a sibling diagnosed with a depressive or anxiety disorder
AuthorsSammut Muscat, A.
Abstract

Mental health not only affects the individual, but also other members of the family. Literature focuses mostly on the parents and/or the individual being affected by the mental illness, while putting aside the siblings and how they are affected when issues related to mental illness emerge during their adolescence. As siblings grow up, the tendency is that they spend a lot of time together, and when mental health emerges, a lot of changes are incurred. This study aims to give a voice to the people who are normally silenced. Therefore, through their narratives, the study aims to understand better the trajectories of the silenced sibling, from adolescence to adulthood and how this journey shaped one’s meaning of life. Furthermore, through understanding one’s story, the helping professionals can work in a holistic manner within the family system. A narrative approach was adopted and thus, seven semi- structured interviews were conducted with participants who experienced having a sibling with depression and other mental health issues emerging during their adolescence. Elliot’s first and second order narrative analysis was used to elicit four main themes. The findings revealed that due to the emergence of symptoms of mental illness within the family, the participants had to adopt new roles to be of help to the family. Moreover, how the participants felt and dealt with mental health within the family was explored. In addition, the theme of loss and how this journey has left an effect on their adulthood was highlighted. The participants explored how their siblings’ mental illness have left them struggling in some aspects in their adulthood, but also how they have grown from this experience, making the purpose of living more meaningful to them. It seems that therapy has helped most of participants to heal and grow form this experience. Since the sample was small and based in Malta, results cannot be generalized as the participants spoke from a Maltese cultural background related to mental health, yet the meaning can be transferable. Recommendation for helping professionals to work more with all the family members, from an early start, would be beneficial in the long run.

Keywordssiblings, adolescence, adulthood, mental illness, depression, anxiety, narrative inquiry
Sustainable Development Goals3 Good health and well-being
Middlesex University ThemeHealth & Wellbeing
LanguageEnglish
Department namePsychology
Institution nameMiddlesex University / New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling (NSPC)
Publication dates
Print17 Feb 2023
Publication process dates
Deposited17 Feb 2023
Accepted16 Feb 2023
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
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https://repository.mdx.ac.uk/item/8q47v

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