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Non-suicidal self-injury and sibling relationships : a retrospective inquiry

Scaife, I. (2018). Non-suicidal self-injury and sibling relationships : a retrospective inquiry. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Non-suicidal self-injury is a prevalent phenomenon among adolescents and of increasing concern to mental health practitioners. While the family environment has been shown to be important in the onset and maintenance of non-suicidal self-injury, sibling relationships have been widely ignored. This study attempts to understand how young women with a history of self-injury make sense of and experience sibling relationships. Semi-structured interviews were used with eight young adult women (age 18-30) to explore their experience of sibling relationships and self-injury in adolescence. Interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Four super-ordinate themes emerged: disconnection, negative experience of the sibling, negative perceptions of the self and surviving the teenage years. The retrospective accounts spoke to the complex and dynamic relationship between siblings during adolescence. Detailed narratives highlighted how a negative perception of the self in the family was a significant contributor to participant’s emotional distress and self-injury. Participants described how aggression was experienced in the sibling relationship not solely but also as a response to self-injurious behaviour. In turn siblings were also seen as a resource and accounts denoted an improvement in self-injury and quality of sibling relationship over time. Relevance to counselling psychology was considered throughout in terms of both theory and practice. This research highlights the need to consider the impact of sibling relationships when working with those who self-injure. It may also be of relevance to family-based prevention and management strategies when there is an adolescent who self-injures in the family.

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