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Anagnostaki, L. Zaharia, A. (2018). The traumatic stories of the the children left behind: “I understand why they left, but…why did they leave?”. IJP Open, 5:52.

(2018). IJP Open, 5:52

The traumatic stories of the the children left behind: “I understand why they left, but…why did they leave?”

Lida Anagnostaki and Alexandra Zaharia

The paper is a first attempt to explore within a psychodynamic frame of reference the impact of parental immigration on the young children who were left behind, to live with relatives in the country of origin, while their parents worked and lived abroad. To our knowledge, the psychoanalytic literature on migration has examined the psychic impact of the migration process on the people who migrate, focusing on one hand, on the cumulative trauma that migration may engender, and on the other, on the possible maturational opportunities migration may offer. The people that have been left behind, their feelings, and psychic needs, have been largely overlooked by both psychodynamic theorists and researchers. We interviewed 14 adult men and women who had this experience as young children, focusing on the way they understand and give meaning to the experience of separation, in retrospect. The interviews were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. The themes that emerged from the analysis of the interviews delineate the psychic sequelae of parent's migration on the young children, and depict the trauma induced by the early and prolonged separation which seems to still haunt the lives and mental functioning of the participants.

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