Intergenerational Trauma and Cultural Dissonance in the Face of Ongoing Social Issues: A Case Study with Vietnamese Youth
Dominican University of California
Intergenerational Trauma (IT) occurs when the effects of traumatic events are passed down across generations (Isobel et al., 2020), typically through family dynamics and interactional patterns (Hesse ..more »
Intergenerational Trauma (IT) occurs when the effects of traumatic events are passed down across generations (Isobel et al., 2020), typically through family dynamics and interactional patterns (Hesse & Main, 2000). In the Vietnamese American population, IT is exacerbated by a culture that has historically deprioritized/ignored mental well-being. Which is exacerbated by pressure to adhere to the Model Minority Myth (Hall & Yee, 2012), and by Intergenerational Cultural Dissonance (ICD; conflict caused when the values of younger generations diverge from the traditional culture of their parents (Choi et al., 2008)). While mental health resources for this population were severely inadequate before COVID-19, access to these services are now becoming more limited. Moreover, few studies have examined mental health issues within this community without generalizing Vietnamese Americans with other Asian American ethnicities. The present study explores the intersection of COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the ongoing mental health struggles of Vietnamese American youth stemming from IT and ICD. Thirty 18-25 year old second-generation Vietnamese Americans were recruited through various social media outlets to participate in either a focus group interview with two other participants or in two individual interviews to gain a better understanding of their upbringing, parental relationships, and Vietnamese identity. Participants also completed a survey containing the Parent-Adolescent Relationship Scale (Wu & Chao, 2007) and the short scale for the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire (Hills & Argyle, 2002) to measure the relationship between parent-child relationships and participant’s well-being. Results are expected to reveal untreated/undertreated mental health issues, as well as the occurrence of ICD and IT among participants. Participants whose parents were less educated and/or immigrated at an older age are expected to exhibit more severe ICD/IT, especially regarding contemporary social issues. By identifying this community’s unique needs, this research could improve culturally-relevant mental health resources.