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Adolescents\' experience of a parental traumatic brain injury

D Harris
A D Stuart


This study explores the experiences of four adolescents, each living with a parent who has sustained a traumatic brain injury, against the theoretical backdrop of existential-phenomenological psychology. In-depth interviews were conducted and analysed within the context of the existential phenomenology, in an attempt to gain a deep understanding
of the psychologically complex themes and patterns embedded in the experience. The phenomenon of parental traumatic brain injury was characterised by denial, anger, grief, guilt, anxiety, over-protectiveness, social isolation, and change in many areas of the participants' lives. The adolescents coped using both approaches and avoidance styles of coping. Religion was a theme in the lives of all four adolescents. Despite the professed negative impact of the experience of having a traumatically brain-injured parent, the adolescents in the current study managed to find some degree of positive meaning in having to cope with such a traumatic event and its consequences. The results are interpreted within an existential-phenomenological psychology framework.

Keywords: traumatic brain injury; consequences; family; adolescence; phenomenology; coping

Health SA Gesondheid Vol. 11 (4) 2006: pp. 46-56

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eISSN: 2071-9736
print ISSN: 1025-9848