Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dissertation on shame. Chapter 23.1 A theory of interrupted feelings

23.1 A theory of interrupted feelings

The stories told in the chapter of brothers and sisters show that this is a compound and difficult topic to be confronted with. Exploring this subject in my opinion shows the need for much further investigation in order to understand and help those involved. I have found very little research related to this subject, but will mention one study which I have found relevant even though the focus is not on sexual abuse but schizophrenia.    Kristoffersen and Mustard (2000) have carried out a study to identify the central feelings involved when one’s sibling is victimized. In this study there were 16 participants who had brothers and sisters who were schizophrenic. I have not been able to find similar research on the sufferings of siblings of victims of sexual abuse. They conclude that there are several factors that determine the way brothers or sisters feel about their schizophrenic sibling. Siblings cannot withdraw from the situation and end the relationship the same way that, for example, married couples can. Siblings are bound by the close ties of kinship to the individual who is ill. The various emotions that arise in relation to the sick brother or sister are difficult to separate from each other, and can be understood as mixed feelings. The experience of mixed feelings can be difficult to understand both for the individual and the community. This can cause feelings of loneliness, with no possibility of being understood by others. Kristoffersen and Mustard (2000) have developed a theory of interrupted feelings in their study and argue that feelings of grief, hope, anger, guilt and shame are interrupted by four factors: a confusing loss; the random nature of the process of the sickness; inner prohibitions; and being excluded by the community. These factors can lead to loneliness and painful feelings that are difficult to work through and to communicate to others. Hiding the feelings from oneself can create an underlying sadness, which may influence the person’s possibilities for growth and development. If the feelings are understood, worked through and shared with others, the experience can strengthen the person. Most individuals will experience both the negative and positive effects at the same time. In my opinion, a similar study should be conducted within the context of sexual abuse to verify their theory of interrupted feeling can be used. Siblings need help to take back their feelings and be permitted to feel grief, hope, anger, guilt and shame without being interrupted by a confusing loss; the random nature of the process of the sickness; inner prohibitions; and being cancelled out by the community. This seems in my opinion to be a task where the Incest Centre already is involved and gives help to many family member who have experienced sexual abuse in there families.

This section has focused on shame in relation to brothers and sisters. Linda tells us about her brother who abused her sexually throughout her childhood. They have not spoken of the abuse since it stopped, even though he has asked for forgiveness. Seeing her brother fills her with disgust. Olga has a son who has shown signs of shame about having a father who abused his sister. There seems to be little research on this topic and it is important in my opinion that more work is done on the subject. Many victims of sexual abuse have brothers and sisters who might also feel shame because of the abuse. Their shame needs to be worked through and shared with others.

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