Self-injury, stigma, and identity: The Northern Ireland context

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Self-injury research has been located primarily in the disciplines of psychiatry and psychology however it is gaining increasing recognition as an interdisciplinary field, ripe with potential for sociological and psychosocial analysis. In this article, I revisit Goffman’s theory to explore retrospectively the dynamic nature of stigma and identity for people affected by self-injury in the socio- political context of Northern Ireland. Drawing on 30 in-depth interviews with people reporting a history of self-injury and practitioners in community roles who provide support to people that self-injure, I sought to understand their perspectives on the moral career of people who self-injure. This article provides insight into participants’ experiences of three intersecting phases in the lives of those who self-injure: engaging in self-injury; help-seeking interactions; and, recovery. I propose that developing critical understanding of social theory is paramount for self-injury interventions in practice, research, and policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalDeviant Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

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