The lived experience of PTSD for children of Australian Vietnam veterans in Australia

O'Brien, Kenneth John (2012) The lived experience of PTSD for children of Australian Vietnam veterans in Australia. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

There is a growing area of scholarship that attests to the importance of understanding the impact of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on the military family (Cozza, Chun, & Polo, 2005; Peach, 2005; Riggs, 2009; Siebler, 2003). Recent research highlights the critical role that the family plays in mitigating the effects of this condition for its members (Chase-Lansdale, Wakschlag, & Brooks-Gunn, 1995; Fiese, Foley, & Spagnola, 2006; Hetherington & Blechman, 1996; Pinkerton & Dolan, 2007; Seedat, Niehaus, & Stein, 2001; Serbin & Karp, 2003; Walsh, 2003), society (Jenson & Fraser, 2006; Seedat, Kaminer, Lockhat, & Stein, 2000; Wood & Geismar, 1989) and the next generation (Davidson & Mellor, 2001; Ender, 2006; Weber, 2005; Westerink & Giarratano, 1999). However, little is understood about the way people who grew up in Australlian military families affected by PTSD describe their experiences and what the implications are for their participation in family life. This study addressed the following research questions: (1) ‘How does a child of a Vietnam veteran understand and describe the experience of PTSD in the family?’ and (2) ‘What are the implications of this understanding on their current participation in family life?’ These questions were addressed through a qualitative analysis of focus-group data collected from adults with a Vietnam veteran parent with PTSD. The key rationale for a qualitative approach was to develop an understanding of these questions in a way which was as faithful as possible to the way they talked about their past and present family experiences. A number of experiential themes common to participants were identified through the data analysis. Participants’ experiences linked together to form a central theme of control, which revealed the overarching narrative of ‘It’s all about control and the fear of losing it’, that responds to the first research queston. The second research question led to a deeper analysis of the ‘control experiences’ to identify the ways in which participants responded to and managed these problematic aspects of family life, and the implications for their current sense of participation in family life. These responses can be understood through the overarching narrative of: ‘Soldier on despite the differences’ which assists them to optimise the impact of control and develop strategies required to maintain a semblance of personal normality and a normal family life. This intensive research has led to the development of theoretical propositions about this group’s experiences and responses that can be tested further in subsequent research to assist families and their members who may be experiencing the intergenerational impacts of psychological trauma acquired from military service.

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ID Code: 49060
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Adkins, Barbara & Price, Robin
Keywords: PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, trauma, Vietnam, veteran, family, families, lived experience, intergenerational, Australia, accounts, narratives, ethnomethodology, grounded theory, interaction, focus groups, normality
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 09 Mar 2012 07:06
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015 02:27

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