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Women, self-harm and borderline personality disorder: a search for understanding

Walker, Tammi (2006) Women, self-harm and borderline personality disorder: a search for understanding. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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    Adopting a case study approach (Yin, 1984; Stake, 1995;) this study aims to explore the
    experiences of 'self-harm' by women who have been given a diagnosis of 'borderline
    personality disorder' (BPD) within one area of a Mental Health NHS Trust. By taking a
    material-discursive-intrapsychic approach (Ussher, 1999; 2000) this research explores
    the accounts that have been constructed around 'self-harm' and 'BPD' by mental health
    professionals working with women and women themselves. This research looks at the
    ways in which 'self-harm' and the diagnosis of 'BPD' are operationalised by
    professionals and the implications arising from these constructions and discourses when
    delivering services to women. The study also explores the narrative accounts of women
    who access the mental health care arena in relation to their experiences of 'self-harm'
    and 'BPD', and in particular how they have constructed and experienced such responses
    in their everyday lives.
    The process of data gathering for this project was organised in two phases. In the first
    phase of data gathering eight mental health professionals participated in conversational
    interviews (Nichols, 1991; Conrad and Schober, 1998). These professionals worked for
    the Mental Health NHS Trust and each of them aimed to provide care, support and
    treatment for individuals accessing mental health services. The second phase of the
    research involved the participation of four women, living in the locality of the NHS Trust,
    in lengthy narrative interviews (Reissman, 1993). Data analysis for phase one drew
    upon the guidelines developed by Willig (1999; 2001) and for phase two Reissman's
    (1993) thematic narrative analysis and Langellier's (1989) personal narrative guided the
    analytical process.
    Unlike previous research that has explored 'self-harm' and 'BPD' the present study
    draws upon social constructionism, critical realism and post-modern thinking. This
    approach has made it possible for an alternate way of considering 'self-harm' and 'BPO'.
    Individual women at material, discursive and intrapsychic levels experience this
    phenomenon. It's meaning to women, and to the mental health care professionals, has
    to be understood in relation to the specific historical and cultural contexts in which both
    are positioned and the dominant cultural discourses that exist at these times. By
    drawing upon a critical realist epistemological standpoint and adopting a materialdiscursive-
    intrapsychic analysis the present study has been able to incorporate these
    different layers of the women's subjective experience, and the different types of expert
    knowledge about 'self-harm' and 'BPO', into one framework. The present study has
    been able to explore 'self-harm' and 'BPO', both as discursive constructs and a set of
    symptoms experienced by individual women.

    Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
    Additional Information: EThOS Persistent ID:
    Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
    Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences
    Depositing User: Sharon Beastall
    Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2011 09:06
    Last Modified: 05 Jan 2011 09:06


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