New perspectives on the dynamics of the adoption triangle using biographical, literary and psychoanalytic sources

Fleming, Robert William Kyle (2013) New perspectives on the dynamics of the adoption triangle using biographical, literary and psychoanalytic sources. PhD thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. Full text available

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The difficulty of qualitative research in the area of adoption process is the starting point for this work. Forms of data gathering and analysis that will capture the emotionality of adoption participants are outlined. The aim was to extend our psychoanalytic understanding of the dynamics of the ‘searching’ phenomenon in the adoption triangle. A review of the psychoanalytic literature pertinent to adoption was compiled and the applicability of the core concepts explored. There was a clear fit between these tools and the task of understanding the multi-layered nature of adoption. A systematic thematic analysis of narrative accounts of the lived experience of four subjects at each of the three points of the triangle (12 in total), revealed a number of new themes. Many of them were not found in the existing literature in the same way. It was apparent that the majority of the themes were evident in all three positions of the adoption triangle. The most significant among these was evidence of a particular kind of ‘triangular psychology’. The adoption triangle members were consistently preoccupied at many levels with those occupying both the other two positions. This stands in some contrast to a tendency in the literature to assume that subjects are dyadically preoccupied with those occupying just one of the other positions. This research suggested that all were triadically relating within the triangle. The empirical work in this research suggests the manner in which these preoccupations persist through time in complex and fluid interactions with each another. The idea of ‘triangular psychology’ illuminates the phenomenon of the ‘search’ as a core existential predicament in the lives and minds of adoption participants. In addition, a systemic thematic review of two novels in which adoption is a major theme was undertaken. The analysis of the novels (one from the 19th century and one from the 21st century) had a remarkable concordance with the themes from the research interviews. The vast majority of the interview themes were also present in the work by the two novelists. The implications for therapeutic work are considered. A more three dimensional way of thinking about object relationships is required when psychotherapy is offered to adoption related individuals.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted to the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in association with the University of East London for the degree of PhD in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (Child and Adolescent)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Doctor of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Adoption & Fostering- Psychology
Cognitive Processes, Theory of Mind > Creativity
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services

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