Ambiguous loss associated with mental ill health: How is it perceived, experienced and managed by those affected?

Kanthi Varuna Perera

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    82 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    [Truncated] The impairments associated with mental ill health present those affected and their significant-others with losses that are uncertain, incomplete and lack resolution. The ambiguity of mental ill health is confusing not only for those living intimately with it but also for those around them. Ambiguous loss associated with mental ill health has gone unrecognised by health professionals. Instead, often the grief that accompanies ambiguous loss has been seen as pathological, resulting in healthy expression of grief being seriously inhibited. Such inhibition has created a barrier to grieving and has the potential for breakdown of family relationships. Parallel stories of the experience of complicated grief for people affected by mental ill health and their significant-others are rare in the literature. The journey of grieving for family members is not necessarily synchronised and, the nuances of a complex dynamic process of complicated grief can therefore be further exacerbated. The aim of this study was to attain a critical understanding of ambiguous loss associated with mental ill health and gather research-based evidence of parallel stories of the experience of loss and uncertainties associated with mental ill health, and develop substantive theory about how a group of people living in West Australia affected by mental ill health manage the ambiguities associated.

    The study was underpinned by the interpretive paradigm of symbolic interactionism and used a combination of constructivist grounded theory methods, transcendental realism methods and a collective case study design to develop substantive theory. The study was also guided by the middle range theory of Ambiguous Loss developed by Boss (1999, 2006). Fifteen in-depth interviews with seven families from diverse backgrounds were conducted. It was also a three-dimensional view of consumers, their significant-others and significant-others who had developed symptoms of mental ill health and considered themselves as consumers at the time of the study. Through a combination of open, focused, axial and pattern coding and data display through matrices I merged findings to make assertions. Metaphors helped me collapse data into the larger context without locking out multiple avenues for analysis and place patterns noted in the data.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Western Australia
    DOIs
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2014

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