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Minerva Psichiatrica 1999 March;40(1):23-30


language: Italian

Transgenerational patterns in the relationship between parents and adolescents with psychiatric disorders

Marcheschi M., Tosi B., Morelli A., Palacio-Espasa F.


Background. The aim of the present work was to analyse the kind of parent/child relation between parents of adolescents with Mood Disorders and Borderline Personality Disorders and their children, and particularly the kind of conflict in assuming their parent role.
Methods. In order to evaluate these aspects connected with parental conflict we prepared with Palacio- Espasa a semistructured interview for the parents.The interview is made up of three parts; the first is for both the parents together, when they are asked to describe the main characteristics of their child, their expectations, the kind of relationship with them and with other children, possible similarities to them or to other members of the family.
Then we investigated the area connected with the memories of when their child was very young and how, according to them, he has changed. The other two parts concern the two parents separately. These are mostly directed at finding how the parents live their role, both in reality and in their imagination, what parental images they have and which they identify themselves with. So these two parts explore the transgeneration aspect, the kind and grade of conflict in assuming their own role as parents.We then elaborated a grid to codify the data. The Family Relations Test (FRT, Bene E., Anthony J.), which gives a standard evaluation of family relations, and a transgeneration prospective of the feelings the parents have towards their parent family has been used.
The sample is made up of two groups: the first is composed of 10 subjects (6 males and 4 females) affected by Borderline Personality Disorder according to DSM IV and an average of 15.5 years and their parents; the second group is made up of 10 subjects (5 males and 5 females), with Mood Disorder according to DSM IV and an average of 15 years and their parents.
Results. The results of the semistructured interview showed pathological levels of conflict in both the groups ; in the first group a conflict of a masochistic kind prevails both for mothers (90%) and fathers (57%), in the second group a conflict of the neurotic kind prevails both for mothers (60%) and fathers (62,5%). We observe a greater conflict in assuming their role as parents in the group of parents of adolescents with Personality Disorder.
Also the FRT found the case to be more serious and the family dynamics more compromised in the group of subjects with personality disorder, where there is a prevalence of negative feeling such as disapproval, hostility, refusal, criticism and inhibition of positive feelings.

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