Identity, Attachment and Resilience : Exploring Three Generations of a Polish Family book cover
1st Edition

Identity, Attachment and Resilience
Exploring Three Generations of a Polish Family

ISBN 9781138701724
Published September 19, 2017 by Routledge
268 Pages 71 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Identity, Attachment and Resilience provides a timely foray into the new field of psychology and genealogy, exploring the relationship between family history and identity. The field encompasses family narratives and researches family history to increase our understanding of cultural and personal identity, as well as our sense of self. It draws on emotional geography and history to provide rich yet personalised contexts for family experience.

In this book, Antonia Bifulco researches three generations of her own Czechowski family, beginning in Poland in the late nineteenth century and moving on to post-WWII England. She focuses on key family members and places to describe individual experience against the socio-political backdrop of both World Wars. Utilising letters, journals and handwritten biographies of family members, the book undertakes an analysis of impacts on identity (sense of self ), attachment (family ties) and resilience (coping under adversity), drawing out timely wider themes of immigration and European identity.

Representing a novel approach for psychologists, linking family narrative to social context and intergenerational impacts, Identity, Attachment and Resilience describes Eastern European upheaval over the twentieth century to explain why Polish communities have settled in England. With particular relevance for Polish families seeking to understand their cultural heritage and identity, this unique account will be of great interest to any reader interested in family narratives, immigration and identity. It will appeal to students and researchers of psychology, history and social sciences.

Table of Contents

List of figures



Spelling and Pronunciation of Polish names

Chapter 1 Trust: Introducing family narratives

SECTION I Poland: The first generation

Chapter 2 Autonomy: Living under partition (1886-1913)

Chapter 3 Initiative: Fighting on the Eastern front (1914-20)

Chapter 4 Industriousness: Life in independent Warsaw (1921-39)

SECTION II Poland and England: The second generation

Chapter 5 Confusion: Nazi Occupation of Warsaw (1939-43)

Chapter 6 Identity: Resistance in France (1939-43)

Chapter 7 Isolation: England fights, Warsaw rises (1943-45)

SECTION III England: The third generation

Chapter 8 Intimacy: Marriage and migration (1945-50)

Chapter 9 Generativity: Family reunion and loss (1951-71)

Chapter 10 Integrity: Reminiscence and reflection (1972-2016)


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Antonia Bifulco is professor and co-director at the Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies at Middlesex University, London. She is a psychologist with expertise in lifespan development, and utilises an attachment model to examine relationships. She has had extensive research funding and publishes on issues concerning childhood and adult adversity, stress/trauma and clinical depression.


This absorbing volume, written by one of our leading experts on attachment and resilience, presents important, original insights into the impact of socio-historical contexts upon the development of self from infancy to old age. The psychological consequences of studying our own family history are often moving and sometimes empowering. But the emotional, social and cultural impact of genealogy, particularly as presented here by Bifulco who uncovers her own fascinating, diverse family history, provides far broader opportunities for intergenerational wisdom. --Paula Nicolson, Emeritus Professor at Royal Holloway, University of London, chartered psychologist and author


This culturally integrated study of the history of three generations of the Czechowski family, presented by lifespan psychologist Antonia Bifulco, will be important for those who seek understanding of the identity of diverse, contemporary European societies. The analysis of the identity of the group of Europeans of Polish and English origin from 1886 up to the present day integrates theories and methods of psychology, sociology, and anthropology. It is documented by systematically collected family archival materials. It is a novel application of Erik Erikson theory to the history of one family who survived extreme historical events. --Jadwiga Kr√≥likowska, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Warsaw, author of 'Sociology of Charitable Activity: an outline of the problems of poverty and support against the background of English experience', ed. '(False) Promises of Multiculturalism'


Bifulco's book is a pertinent consideration of the legacy and understanding that can be gained from exploring family histories. By drawing on personal records, and her extensive academic knowledge of identity, Bifulco brings considerations of attachment and resilience to life to illustrate an innovative way of researching and understanding identity. The book offers an absorbing insight into her own family, and new ways in which we can make sense of ourselves by exploring who has come before us. --Dr Nollaig Frost, Visiting Researcher, Middlesex University