The Good Mother: An Examination of Mothers of the Mentally Ill and the Validation of Social Identity
Based upon the qualitative interviews of twenty mothers, this research details the stress and anxiety experienced by mothers who provide care for their socially devalued child as they struggle to maintain the positive social identity of "good mother". Four themes are presented as findings. "First realization" presents mothers' experiences including the sacrifices and losses she experiences before and after their child's diagnosis in four stages: "pre-crisis", "crisis", " diagnosis", and "living with illness". "Guilty Mother" discusses mothers experience of guilt as a result of accusations of blame often placed on them and their efforts to distance herself from this blame. "Stigma and Anti-Stigma Efforts" looks at mothers' experience of stigma and the destigmatization campaigns to alleviate the stigma surrounding mental illness. "Mother's Involvement with the Mental Health Care System" examines mothers' disenfranchisement from the mental health system and the consequences this has for social identity.
Keywords: mothering, identity, stigma, caregiving
Dr. Dorothy De Boer
University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point