Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work


At present in the United States approximately four million people (1.6%) suffer from bipolar I and bipolar II disorders. About 20% are not helped by medication. Each bipolar person has two parents,and may have siblings, friends, spouses and children. All of these people are affected by the feelings and behavior of the bipolar person. The children are especially vulnerable to behavior disorders, depression, and anxiety, even if protective factors mitigate the family situation.

This qualitative research addresses the events recalled by adult daughters whose mothers are bipolar: what they recalled of what they thought, felt and did in response. Events from early childhood to the time of the interview were explored. The interview was modeled on the Seidman series of phenomenological interviews, modified into one long interview as suggeated by McCracken. There were ten participants, recruited in a clinic, by word of mouth, and a newspaper advertisement. Two were 25, two were in their fifties, and th other six ranged in age from 34 to 39. Two were African- American, one was biracial, and the other seven came from widely varied ethnic backgrounds.

The data were analyzed using N'Vivo. It enabled comparison of themes from each life stage addressed in the interviews. these themes were recorded in 41 tables. The most populated and enduring were role reversal, beginning in early childhood, and conflict, beginning in the high school years. Each theme persisted in the presence of the other until the time of the interviews, profoundly interfering with development, trust, intimacy, and work. These conclusions suggested both needed services and further research.

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