• Emma Bridal Klose Callsen
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
Mental illness is a common disease in Denmark. This means that many become caregivers of humans with mental illness and some of them end up getting ill themselves. Therefore, this study sets out to shed light on the conditions of the caregivers, specifically parents of adult children who suffer from mental illness. The aim of this master thesis is to examine how parents react to become caregivers of their adult child with mental illness, and what meaning this condition has for the identity of the parents. The applied method consists of a thematic analysis of the documentary “Love Bound - When your child becomes mentally ill”. The thematic analysis is based on a theoretical approach between phenomenology and hermeneutics. Two main themes were identified in the thematic analysis which were 1) Difficult emotions and 2) Identity with two related sub-themes which were 2a) The parental role and 2b) Other people’s ideas about the parental role.

The result of this study shows that parents experience difficult emotions related to the role as caregiver of their adult children. Among other emotions they experience the feeling of being in a constant alertness, hopelessness, and powerlessness. Many of the parents worry greatly about the future for their child. For some of the parents these reactions result in them being stressed and sick. The study finds that the role as caregiver influences the identity of the parents. They redefine and reconsider their role as parents and their ideas of their future selves. The condition as caregiver causes the parents to adapt in different ways which for some results in them withdrawing from their adult child. Other people’s opinions about how they adapt to their condition influence the parents in such a way that they become insecure about their identity.

Limitations of this study includes the fact that the results are based on a documentary which could have had a specific agenda and that the participating parents make up a small homogeneous group. In conclusion this study finds that the role as caregiver for an adult child who suffer from mental illness cause the parents to experience many emotional reactions which can affect their identity. In the discussion this finding was understood with the theoretical concepts of crisis and narrative identity. The reactions of the parents to their condition as caregivers can be understood as symptoms of a traumatic crisis, which can cause a transformation of the narrative identity of the parents. The end goal for this master thesis is that the knowledge obtained through this study can be used to provide a better understanding of being a parent to an adult child with mental illness, and that this knowledge can improve the support of the parents.
Publication date30 May 2022
Number of pages53
ID: 471594862