I am pleased to share the synopsis of a recently completed PhD in the area of child to parent violence, sent to me by Dr Alexandra Papamichail, who has been studying at Brighton University.
My qualitative study explored a form of family violence, namely, child-to-parent violence. The aim was to fill a gap in the literature by giving voice to young people whose voices have been marginalised, as well as to professionals who work with them in the UK. I focused on familial relationships and contexts within which young people are embedded, their psychological states and how these are linked with violent behaviour. The work drew on theories of attachment, developmental trauma and family-systems and emerged from a practitioner-researcher perspective within the disciplinary area of developmental psychology and psychopathology.
I conducted participant-observation and interviews with eight young people from two different intervention programmes aiming to tackle violence against parents. In addition, I conducted semi-structured interviews with five professionals. All data were analysed from a critical realist perspective using inductive, thematic analysis.
A detailed account of the findings will be presented soon in a paper currently in preparation (Papamichail, 2018). The commonalities with developmental trauma are underlined; similarly, the commonalities with the characteristics of “borderline personality disorder (BPS)”1 are addressed for the first time in the UK (Papamichail, 2018). My study fills the gap of psychologically informed research in the UK as well as the gap of the literature regarding young people’s perspectives. It problematises the current practice in the field and suggests a new synthesis informed by tailored interventions, attachment and trauma theory, upon which evidence-based interventions may be based.
1 In alignment with the guidelines of the Division of Clinical Psychology of the British Psychological Society (2015) regarding the language used in relation to functional psychiatric diagnoses, I have chosen to demonstrate my scepticism toward the usefulness of terms such as “borderline personality disorder” by placing them in parentheses (British Psychological Society 2015, p. 3).
Dr Alexandra Papamichail has completed her Ph.D in developmental psychology and psychopathology and she is currently working in the field of mental health research. Anyone who is interested to find more about the study, share views and experiences about young people’s violence against parents feel free to contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.