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The rejected self : young people’s experiences of self-hatred, self-harm and finding acceptance

Punter, E. (2018). The rejected self : young people’s experiences of self-hatred, self-harm and finding acceptance. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


The aim of this study was to investigate how individuals with a history of adolescent self-harm perceive their experience of repetitive self-harm. This study explores the experiences of young people who engaged in repetitive self-harm during adolescence but have subsequently stopped. Due to the lack of qualitative research on this topic and the potential for stigma relating to self harm, it was considered pertinent to focus on individuals’ lived experience. Seven female participants (aged 22 to 30 years old) gave accounts of their experiences via face-to-face semi structured interviews. The interview transcripts were then analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Five superordinate themes emerged from the data: ‘Isolation’, ‘Others don’t understand’, ‘Rejection and Acceptance”, ‘Relationship with the self’ and ‘Autonomy’. Situated within these themes were subthemes capturing specific different facets of the experience, including certain transformations related to the cessation of their self-harm. The findings revealed that participants began to stop self-harming towards late adolescence when factors in their lives began to shift, particularly in the areas of acceptance and autonomy. The findings shed light on resolution of the behaviour. The findings support existing theoretical models of self-harm and previous research, and are discussed in the context of the developmental stage of adolescence. This study offers concluding thoughts around the implications of the findings in relation to the practice of counselling psychology, specifically when working therapeutically with adolescents who self-harm.

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