Thoughts and views of one’s internal self can be materialized via verbal symbols. Therefore literal people can use these verbal symbols as a means of recording their ideas and experiences in order for  them  to  be  passed  on  and  read  by  others.  Evidently  the  abovementioned  mental operations can be reflected in speech and language. It is not yet known whether bilingualism is the sum of two monolingual situations or whether they coexist. The way each language is organized is also not known, neither are the psychological operations that may influence the organization of each language, memory and the relationship with each language. During childhood and adolescence, language is a very important tool via which one communicates, materializes emotional behavior and organizes oneself. Linguistic development and identity formation both follow a parallel and connected line in view of the internal psychological organization. However, in the bilingual person, this relationship is influenced both by the two different cultural stimuli and by the two different linguistic stimuli (i.e. language). However, in the case where children grow up in a bilingual environment there are some particularities and special issues affecting these children. Under such circumstances, the accomplishment of the feeling of coherence and stability of the self becomes an even more difficult task for the child. Nowadays, in Greek reality, the phenomenon of bilingualism tends to be associated with economic immigration. In the sample used, five fourths of children consist of  children  coming  from  families of economic  immigrants.  The  composition of  the  student population  in  Greece  is  characterized  by  linguistic  and  cultural  polymorphism.  The  presence and existence of a large number of immigrants has changed the setting in Greece in many regions of the country and in turn, the composition of the school population.  Any public school allover in Greece consists, among others, of children coming from families of economic immigrants, including thus a random number of children speaking different languages. Without doubt, immigration affects the immigrating person as much as it affects the new group. Also, immigration adjustment and formation depends on the pre-existing characteristics of the immigrants as much as it does on the characteristics of the welcoming society. Research dealing with the issues of economic immigrants in Greece are limited and mainly come from schools. The focus of interest is aimed firstly on the psychopathology that can be linked to the phenomenon of immigration and secondly on the social consequences of the phenomenon. The formation of psychopathology is associated with immigration and the importance of psychological trauma and its consequences. However, the association between the creation of psychopathology, which is formulated in childhood/adolescence, and the bilingual environment together with identity formation, is not yet clear. The aim of this paper was to study the effect of the dual language environment on psychopathology formation among children and adolescents as it appears in everyday clinical practice and as it has been recorded at the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit of the Community Mental Health Centre of Byron and Kaissariani, Psychiatric Hospital, Athens University. Data deriving from the database of the Community Mental Health Centre were extracted from the files of 62 bilingual children, aged 0 to 18 years, who had visited the CMHC of Byron and Kaissariani in the period 2000 to 2005. The data selected concerned the sex, age, maternal language, diagnosis and the existence of economic immigration.  Means  deriving  from  the  sample  of  bilingual  children  were compared to the  means of the rest of the sample. (Pearson chi,2 Fishers exact test)  Based on the results, four fifths of the sample was composed of children belonging to families of economic immigrants. The occurrence of Pervasive Developmental Disorders was triple among the sample of bilingual children compared to the sample of monolingual children. Among school-aged children the majority of diagnoses concerned Specific Language, Movement and Learning Disorders. On the contrary, during adolescence, there was a two-fold increase of psychiatric illness among bilingual adolescents compared to monolingual adolescents with conduct disorders being more prominent among males and mood disorders more prominent among females. Based on the extent and importance of the influence of the dual linguistic environment on children and adolescents as well as on the originality of the new situation in Greek society, further exploration of this area is believed to be necessary.

Key words: bilingualism, child, adolescence, psychopathology, migration, identity

J. Papadaki, A. Christodoulou, M. Paleologou, M. Vlassopoulou, H. Lazaratou, D.C. Anagnostopoulos, D.N. Ploumpidis (page 233) - Full Article (Greek)