Siblings of Persons with Serious Mental Illness: Resilience and Support

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The Ecosystems perspective (Grief & Lynch, 1983) suggests a reverberating effect of enhanced quality of life in one family member on the family ecology. The enrichment of any member’s life may lead to the enhancement of the entire family’s quality of life. To this end, a cross-national sample of 130 siblings (68 Americans and 62 Japanese) of persons with serious mental illness was analyzed to understand the life experiences associated with the mental illness. Different aspects of their experiences were described and compared between the U.S. and Japan. The role of social support, defined by selfobject relationship (Kohut, 1984), in their experiences was then explored.
The descriptive data showed that there were experiences and feelings shared by the majority of siblings in both countries whereas some other feelings were experienced only by the minority. Logistic regression analyses and or MANCOVAs demonstrated cross-national differences in social support and resources, but there were no major cross-national differences in negative or positive experiences. Further, multiple regression analysis showed an association between what was termed “Developmental Factor” and negative experiences. Social support was found to moderate this association for the U.S. siblings.


Keywords: Siblings, Mental Illness, Negative Experiences, Positive Experiences, Coping, Social Support
Stream: Psychology, Cognitive Science and Behavioural Sciences
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , , , Siblings of Persons with Serious Mental Illness


Dr. Kimiko Tanaka

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, School of Social Work, Columbia University
New York City, New York, USA

My research interest is in individuals and their families coping with serious mental illness with a focus on resilience and support. My dissertation topic was siblings of persons with serious mental illness, for which I conducted an original cross-national study (U.S. and Japan) on their life experiences associated with mental illness and investigated the role of social support vis-à-vis their resilience. My recent focus has been the clubhouse model of psychiatric rehabilitation and I am currently engaged in clubhouse-related research. My ambition is to expand to international clubhouse research with a focus on sibling dyads – one with a serious mental illness and one without.

Ref: I08P0803