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Splits and integrations: A phenomenological exploration of self-harm marks and scars

Givissi, Kornilia (2016). Splits and integrations: A phenomenological exploration of self-harm marks and scars. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


What happens after the skin barrier has been broken? This study explores the experience of having marks and scars on the body as a result of self-harm. It aims to investigate the meaning attributed to the marks and scars on the body and how they shape the experience of self-harm and identity of the person. Six female participants gave accounts of their experiences, participating in semi-structured interviews. The interview transcripts were then analysed, using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Four superordinate themes are identified: From Depth to Surface, Bargaining, Connecting the Dots and Drawing Butterflies. The superordinate themes explore the attribution of meaning to the marks and scars in regards to self, history and relationships. A transcending wish to shape and transform the narrative, visual and emotional, is highlighted. The findings of the study indicate that marks and scars carry great meaning for the participants. An unexpected finding highlights the layers of meaning attributed to the presence or absence of scars. An extensive discussion is being made regarding representations of dualism throughout the analysis as well as the differentiation and relationship of self-harm and suicide. Clinical and research implications for Counselling Psychology include: suggestions regarding the definition of selfharm; therapeutic implications of communicative and functional self-harm and the function of marks and scars as agents of embodiment and therapeutic change.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
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