"My heart and my brain is what's bleeding, these are just cuts." An interpretative phenomenological analysis of young women's experiences of self-harm

Article


Norman, H., Marzano, L., Oskis, A. and Coulson, M. 2022. "My heart and my brain is what's bleeding, these are just cuts." An interpretative phenomenological analysis of young women's experiences of self-harm. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 13, pp. 1-7. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2022.914109
TypeArticle
Title"My heart and my brain is what's bleeding, these are just cuts." An interpretative phenomenological analysis of young women's experiences of self-harm
AuthorsNorman, H., Marzano, L., Oskis, A. and Coulson, M.
Abstract

Engagement in self-harm, defined as intentional self-poisoning or self-injury irrespective of the apparent purpose of the act, is increasing, particularly among girls and young women. Understanding the behavior from the perspective of those who self-harm is, therefore, vital in designing effective interventions and treatments. The current brief research report presents a key theme from an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the experience of self-harm among eight young women, aged between 18 and 29. The theme Is Self-Harm Bad? concerns the way in which participants both acknowledged and resisted a negative conception of self-harm that was often constructed from other people's attitudes. Three subthemes explore the reasons why participants were reluctant to endorse self-harm as bad: Self-Harm is the Symptom, Self-Harm Works (Until it Doesn't) and Self-Harm is Part of Me. The findings highlight the disparity between the characterization of self-harm as a highly risky behavior and the lived experience of self-harm as a functional means of emotion regulation. From a clinical perspective, the findings explored in this brief report suggest that highlighting the risks of self-harm may not be a sufficient deterrent. The recently revised draft National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance recommends that everyone presenting to hospital following self-harm should be given a comprehensive psychosocial assessment, of which the function is, in part, to understand why the person has self-harmed. The current study underlines the importance of seeing past the behavior to the underlying causes and exploring the meaning of self-harm to the individual in order to implement effective preventative interventions.

Keywordsself-harm, interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), stigma, qualitative, suicide
Sustainable Development Goals3 Good health and well-being
Middlesex University ThemeHealth & Wellbeing
LanguageEnglish
PublisherFrontiers Media
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
ISSN1664-0640
Publication dates
Online14 Jul 2022
Print14 Jul 2022
Publication process dates
Deposited18 Jul 2022
Submitted06 Apr 2022
Accepted23 Jun 2022
Output statusPublished
Publisher's version
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2022.914109
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Oskis, A., Loveday, C., Hucklebridge, F., Thorn, L. and Clow, A. 2012. Diurnal patterns of salivary cortisol and DHEA in adolescent anorexia nervosa. Stress. 15 (6), pp. 601-607. https://doi.org/10.3109/10253890.2012.661493
Anxious attachment style and salivary cortisol dysregulation in healthy female children and adolescents
Oskis, A., Loveday, C., Hucklebridge, F., Thorn, L. and Clow, A. 2010. Anxious attachment style and salivary cortisol dysregulation in healthy female children and adolescents. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 52 (2), pp. 111-118. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02296.x
Responding to repetitive, non-suicidal self-harm in an English male prison: staff experiences, reactions, and concerns
Marzano, L., Adler, J. and Ciclitira, K. 2013. Responding to repetitive, non-suicidal self-harm in an English male prison: staff experiences, reactions, and concerns. Legal and Criminological Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1111/lcrp.12025
Self-harm in prisons: dominant models and (mis)understandings
Marzano, L. 2010. Self-harm in prisons: dominant models and (mis)understandings. in: Adler, J. and Gray, J. (ed.) Forensic psychology: concepts, debates and practice Willan. pp. 486-507
Interviewing survivors of near-lethal self-harm: a novel approach for investigating suicide amongst prisoners
Marzano, L., Rivlin, A., Fazel, S. and Hawton, K. 2009. Interviewing survivors of near-lethal self-harm: a novel approach for investigating suicide amongst prisoners. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine. 16 (3), pp. 152-155. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jflm.2008.08.011
Psychiatric disorders in male prisoners who made near-lethal suicide attempts: case-control study
Rivlin, A., Hawton, K., Marzano, L. and Fazel, S. 2010. Psychiatric disorders in male prisoners who made near-lethal suicide attempts: case-control study. The British Journal of Psychiatry. 197 (4), pp. 313-319. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.110.077883
Psychiatric disorders in women prisoners who have engaged in near-lethal self-harm: case–control study
Marzano, L., Fazel, S., Rivlin, A. and Hawton, K. 2010. Psychiatric disorders in women prisoners who have engaged in near-lethal self-harm: case–control study. The British Journal of Psychiatry. 197 (3), pp. 219-226. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.109.075424
The suicidal process in male prisoners making near-lethal suicide attempts
Rivlin, A., Fazel, S., Marzano, L. and Hawton, K. 2013. The suicidal process in male prisoners making near-lethal suicide attempts. Psychology, Crime and Law. 19 (4), pp. 305-327. https://doi.org/10.1080/1068316X.2011.631540
Psychosocial influences on prisoner suicide: a case-control study of near-lethal self-harm in women prisoners
Marzano, L., Hawton, K., Rivlin, A. and Fazel, S. 2011. Psychosocial influences on prisoner suicide: a case-control study of near-lethal self-harm in women prisoners. Social Science & Medicine. 72 (6), pp. 874-883. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.12.028
Near-lethal self-harm in women prisoners: contributing factors and psychological processes
Marzano, L., Fazel, S., Rivlin, A. and Hawton, K. 2011. Near-lethal self-harm in women prisoners: contributing factors and psychological processes. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology. 22 (6), pp. 863-884. https://doi.org/10.1080/14789949.2011.617465
Impact on prisoners of participating in research interviews related to near-lethal suicide attempts
Rivlin, A., Marzano, L., Hawton, K. and Fazel, S. 2012. Impact on prisoners of participating in research interviews related to near-lethal suicide attempts. Journal of Affective Disorders. 136 (1), pp. 54-62. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2011.09.009
Studying survivors of near-lethal suicide attempts as a proxy for completed suicide in prisons
Rivlin, A., Fazel, S., Marzano, L. and Hawton, K. 2012. Studying survivors of near-lethal suicide attempts as a proxy for completed suicide in prisons. Forensic Science International. 220 (1), pp. 19-26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2012.01.022
Comfort and challenge: A thematic analysis of female clinicians’ experiences of supervision
Starr, F., Ciclitira, K., Marzano, L., Brunswick, N. and Costa, A. 2013. Comfort and challenge: A thematic analysis of female clinicians’ experiences of supervision. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice. 86 (3), pp. 334-351. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8341.2012.02063.x
Women counsellors' experiences of personal therapy: A thematic analysis
Ciclitira, K., Starr, F., Marzano, L., Brunswick, N. and Costa, A. 2012. Women counsellors' experiences of personal therapy: A thematic analysis. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research. 12 (2), pp. 136-145. https://doi.org/10.1080/14733145.2011.645050
The impact of prison staff responses on self-harming behaviours: prisoners’ perspectives
Marzano, L., Ciclitira, K. and Adler, J. 2011. The impact of prison staff responses on self-harming behaviours: prisoners’ perspectives. British Journal of Clinical Psychology. 51 (1), pp. 4-18. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8260.2010.02007.x
Self-harm in a men's prison: staff's and prisoners' perspectives.
Marzano, L. 2007. Self-harm in a men's prison: staff's and prisoners' perspectives. PhD thesis Middlesex University School of Health and Social Sciences
Visuo-spatial ability and dyslexia: is there a male global advantage?
Brunswick, N., Martin, G. and Marzano, L. 2008. Visuo-spatial ability and dyslexia: is there a male global advantage? British Dyslexia Association International Conference, 2008 [Dyslexia: making links]. Harrogate, York 27 - 29 Mar 2008
Visuo-spatial ability, handedness and developmental dyslexia: just how sinister was Andy Warhol?
Brunswick, N., Martin, G. and Marzano, L. 2007. Visuo-spatial ability, handedness and developmental dyslexia: just how sinister was Andy Warhol? 25th European Workshop on Cognitive Neuropsychology. Bressanone, Italy 21 - 26 Jan 2007
To be or not to be … a psychologist: critical and feminist dilemmas.
Ciclitira, K., Capdevila, R., Marzano, L. and Adams, E. 2008. To be or not to be … a psychologist: critical and feminist dilemmas. 2008 BPS Annual Conference.. Dublin 04 Feb 2008
Counsellors’ experiences of working as volunteers at a women’s service.
Costa, A., Ciclitira, K. and Marzano, L. 2008. Counsellors’ experiences of working as volunteers at a women’s service. 2008 Psychology of Women Section 21st Anniversary Conference on 'Rights and Changes'.. Cumberland Lodge, The Great Park, Windsor.
The impact of personal psychotherapy and supervision on volunteer counsellors.
Ciclitira, K., Marzano, L., Starr, F., Brunswick, N., Costa, A. and Berger, S. 2009. The impact of personal psychotherapy and supervision on volunteer counsellors. 2009 BPS Annual Conference. Brighton, UK 01 - 03 Apr 2009
Supporting staff working with prisoners who self harm: a survey of support services for staff dealing with self-harm in prisons in England and Wales
Marzano, L. and Adler, J. 2007. Supporting staff working with prisoners who self harm: a survey of support services for staff dealing with self-harm in prisons in England and Wales. International Journal of Prisoner Health. 3 (4), pp. 268-282. https://doi.org/10.1080/17449200701682501
Afghan nationals in the UK: professional capacity and views on return
Sales, R., Blitz, B. and Marzano, L. 2002. Afghan nationals in the UK: professional capacity and views on return. Research commissioned by Refugee Action and the International Organization for Migration, London..
Visuospatial superiority in developmental dyslexia: myth or reality?
Brunswick, N., Martin, G. and Marzano, L. 2010. Visuospatial superiority in developmental dyslexia: myth or reality? Learning and Individual Differences. 20 (5), pp. 421-426. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2010.04.007
Justice and care: theorising the 'new man' and the 'caring father.'
Marzano, L., Capdevila, R., Ciclitira, K. and Lazard, L. 2009. Justice and care: theorising the 'new man' and the 'caring father.'. Psychology of Women Secton Review. 11 (2), pp. 11-20.
Theoretical and ethical issues in conducting research at a women’s centre.
Ciclitira, K. and Marzano, L. 2004. Theoretical and ethical issues in conducting research at a women’s centre. Proceedings of the British Psychological Society. 12 (2).
Being a man: justice and care.
Capdevila, R., Ciclitira, K., Lazard, L. and Marzano, L. 2006. Being a man: justice and care. Psychology of Women Section Annual Conference 2005.. University of Huddersfield. The British Psychological Society.
Theoretical and ethical issues in conducting research at a women’s health centre.
Ciclitira, K., Marzano, L., Brunswick, N., Starr, F. and Berger, S. 2004. Theoretical and ethical issues in conducting research at a women’s health centre. Psychology of Women Section Review. 6 (1), pp. 60-69.
Non voluntary return? The politics of refugee return to Afghanistan
Sales, R., Blitz, B. and Marzano, L. 2005. Non voluntary return? The politics of refugee return to Afghanistan. Political Studies. 53 (1), pp. 182-200.