Journal Article

Siblings of Patients With Schizophrenia: Sibling Bond, Coping Patterns, and Fear of Possible Schizophrenia Heredity

Gabriella Stålberg, Hedvig Ekerwald and Christina M. Hultman

in Schizophrenia Bulletin

Published on behalf of Maryland Psychiatric Research Center

Volume 30, issue 2, pages 445-458
Published in print January 2004 | ISSN: 0586-7614
Published online January 2004 | e-ISSN: 1745-1701 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.schbul.a007091
Siblings of Patients With Schizophrenia: Sibling Bond, Coping Patterns, and Fear of Possible Schizophrenia Heredity

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Siblings of schizophrenia patients are from the patient's perspective important support providers, but most studies on family burden have focused on the parental role. This study aims to develop a detailed analysis of the psychological aspects of having a sibling with schizophrenia. We did a qualitative study with audiotaped semistructured interviews of 16 siblings. The reliability of the inductive categorization of data was high. A unifying theme appeared to be an emotional sibling bond characterized by feelings of love, sorrow, anger, envy, guilt, and shame. The major categories linked to coping with the situation were avoidance, isolation, normalization, caregiving, and grieving. A third major theme consisted of a fear of possible schizophrenia heredity. The siblings described concerns about the impact of a family history of psychiatric illness, a fear of becoming mentally ill, and reflections about “bad genes.” Our findings support earlier findings of coping patterns but complement them by providing a model that includes awareness of genetic vulnerability as an important part of siblings' subjective burden.

Keywords: Schizophrenia; siblings; coping; heredity; interviews

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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