How Do Second Generation Immigrants Experience Immigration? Understanding the Impact of the Immigration Process on Second Generation Immigrants Through the Lens of Psychoanalytic Thinking

Xie, Xiaoyin (Ariel)
Emmens, Joanne
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Master of Psychotherapy
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Auckland University of Technology

This dissertation explores the impact of immigration on second generation immigrants by investigating their lived experience. Using a hermeneutic methodology, this research focuses on second generation immigrants’ experience of themselves and being in the world. It aims to investigate the psychological impact that immigration has had on this population. While many studies have been interested in second generation immigrants’ mental and physical development, education and career prospects (Portes & Rumbaut, 2001), little has been written about the internal struggles that they face.

As a way of gaining proximity to the internal world of this population, a hermeneutic literature review was carried out on a selection of literature written by and about second generation immigrants. The central theme of this research identified a conflict in this generation to individuate from their parents and experience their own struggles, which are often unthought and felt as unspeakable. A psychoanalytic lens was applied with an emphasis on Bion’s (1962a) concept on container/contained in order to bring these experiences into consciousness. Further analysis of these findings speculated into the nature and quality of these conflicts. Findings were grouped into three main categories: “conflict in being different”, “conflict with the container”, and “complication in grieving”. Implications for the practice of psychotherapy for this population are discussed. Suggestions for further research are made.

Immigration , second generation immigrants , container/contained , Psychoanalytic , second generation , loss , grief , conflict
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