Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 24 Issue 3 (May/June 2014), Pages 173-264

‘The Good Mother and Her Clinging Child’: Patterns of Anchoring in Social Representations of Dementia Caregiving (pages 234-248)


This paper discusses the findings of a study that examined the processes of anchoring in the understanding of dementia caregiving using 29 interviews conducted in Germany with wives and daughters caring for a relative with dementia and 43 newspaper articles pertinent to the research objective. The concept of anchoring from Social Representations Theory was complemented by elements from cognitive linguistics to analyse the social representations (SRs) that served as source domains to determine what the target domain of dementia caregiving means, entails and requires. The analysis revealed three prevalent patterns of anchoring dementia care in SRs of child care and the good mother. The first pattern ascribed the role of the helpless clinging child needing his mother to the dementia patient, the second emphasised that the dementia caregivers' responsibility for caring, just like motherhood, should take precedence over all other interests and the third consisted of dementia caregivers deriving the perception of being the most suitable caregiver from the mother's natural aptitude for caring. The conclusions reached by the different patterns are argued to contribute to dementia caregivers overexerting themselves and not using support services. The clinical implications for targeting such adverse effects of the anchoring will be discussed. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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