DATE: Friday, January 17, 2014
TIME: 9:00 a.m
PLACE: Studio, Lambert Road campus
CANDIDATE: Michelle Marie Kilcoyne
DISSERTATION TITLE: "Third Generation Effects of Unresolved Grief from Parental Suicide: A Depth Psychological Perspective"
PROGRAM-TRACK/YEAR: PhD-A; 2007
CHAIR: Dr. Christine Lewis
READER: Dr. Karen Shipley
EXTERNAL READER: Dr. Kathleen Gajdos
Kilcoyne, M. (2013). Third Generation Effects of Unresolved Grief from Parental Suicide: A Depth Psychological Perspective (Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2013)
This study explores the third generation effects of unresolved grief from parental suicide upon individuals having a parent who lost a mother or father to suicide during childhood (i.e. before the age of 18). Most suicide research studies have addressed the relationship between first and second generations. As an under-researched area of psychology, this study helps bridge our understanding of how unresolved grief symptoms from parental suicide traverse to the third generation. Although research has supported the intergenerational transmission of unresolved loss and trauma from psychoanalytic, attachment, and family systems perspectives, it does not address the intergenerational impact of unresolved loss specifically due to parental suicide. Yet, research has suggested that suicide bereavement is different from other forms of bereavement, implying the uniqueness of its intergenerational impact.
By employing a phenomenological approach, this study provides an in-depth, subjective understanding of the ways in which the impact of loss from parental suicide may be manifested in the third generation. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with two participants who had both lost their paternal grandfathers to suicide during their fathers’ childhoods (i.e. under the age of 18). Interviews were transcribed verbatim and the data were analyzed utilizing Carol Gilligan’s (2003) Listening Guide. Themes that emerged from the data analysis common to both participants were: family secrecy, emotional silencing in childhood, and defenses against sadness in adulthood. In addition, themes that emerged unique to each participant included: guilt, over-responsibility, absorption of unresolved grief reactions, belittlement of emotional experiences, inhibited psychological development, anxiety, unconscious representations of the deceased, and identification with the deceased. As an exploratory study, the themes that emerged are not considered definitive intergenerational effects, but possibilities to consider for further research. Additionally, this study will help clinicians recognize possible manifestations of unresolved grief from parental suicide in their third generation patients.
Keywords: bereavement, grief, intergenerational, mourning, multigenerational, parental suicide, unresolved grief, unresolved loss, suicide, transgenerational Please note: All oral defense attendees must shuttle to the Lambert Road campus from the Best Western Hotel in Carpinteria. Parking on campus is not available.