Hidden stories: Self-injury, hope, and narratives

Edyta, P. (2012). Hidden stories: Self-injury, hope, and narratives. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)

[img]
Preview
Text - Accepted Version
Download (2MB) | Preview

Abstract

The widespread perception of self-injury places an emphasis on the negative aspects of this behaviour. It is seen by many as a dangerous, self-destructive act, and psychopathology. However, there is a lesser-known view that constructs selfinjury as a hopeful behaviour, through which a person attempts to communicate his/her own emotional states. This research aims to explore how people who selfinjure construct hope in their narratives about self-injury in order to deepen the understanding of the self-injurious behaviour. As the researcher was interested in the individuals’ subjective experience, the qualitative method of inquiry was deemed to be most appropriate. Eight individuals took part in narrative interviews. The Narrative Analysis method was employed to analyse the data. This process revealed a new type of narrative, called a cyclical narrative. The results showed that the self-injury story is the cyclical narrative. Four main themes were identified within this narrative, namely ‘Experienced Chaos’, ‘Self-injury – The Way to Tell the Story, ‘Resolution of the Story – the Paradox of “I’m good”’, and ‘The Story Continues…’. These themes correspond to the stages in self-injury stories, which are experienced by the participants in cycles. The participants described experiencing chaos, despair and hopelessness, and then self-injuring in order to end the chaos and get to a point where they felt good/better. In this context, selfinjury is understood as a pathway of hope and the thoughts of the act of self-injury are identified as an agency thinking of hope. The goal of self-injury here is to get to the uncertain, yet highly desired, point of feeling better, and this also gives rise to the feeling of hope that life can carry on. However, these feelings did not last long and the whole cycle of chaos, despair, hopelessness, self-injury, and hope got repeated. The self-injury story does not have any real resolution or end. In this context, self-injury is seen as a way of telling a story about the chaos and underlying suffering. The experiences of chaos gave rise to feelings of hopelessness, and self-injury was presented as a way to end this state and as an attempt to restore hope in the narrators’ lives. These findings are discussed drawing on narrative theory. Furthermore, some limitations of this research and recommendations for future studies directions are offered. The implications of findings for clinical practice and research are also discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: School of Social Sciences > Department of Psychology
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/11785

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics