‘We’re not monsters ... we’re just really sad sometimes:’ hidden self-injury, stigma and help- seeking

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2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The aim of this article is to provide an insider perspective on experiences of stigmatisation for people who engage in hidden self-injury. The vast majority of self-injury is recognised to be hidden, whereby most people who self-injure do not present to formal health services. By drawing on the data from 20 face-to- face interviews, conducted in community settings, with counselling clients with a history of self-injury and counsellors experienced in working with self-injury, I sought to provide insights into hidden self-injury, stigma and help-seeking. Through a Grounded Theory analysis, three categories were identified: (1) stigma and rejection; (2) fear and the need to rescue; and, (3) secret shame and self-stigma. Each category inter-relates to form the core category, ‘stigma permeates the lives of people who self- injure.’ My research demonstrates that social stigma surrounding self-injury interacts with self-stigma and compounds existent feelings of shame, thus restricting help-seeking and recovery. There is a need for service-providers and policy-makers to become aware of the multifarious manifestations of stigma, which reinforce the devastating impact of self-injury on people’s lives.
LanguageEnglish
JournalHealth Sociology Review
VolumeOnline
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 31 Aug 2017

Fingerprint

Wounds and Injuries
Shame
shame
Social Stigma
Stereotyping
stigmatization
Administrative Personnel
counselor
grounded theory
service provider
Health Services
Fear
Counseling
counseling
Emotions
health service
Interviews
anxiety
history
interview

Keywords

  • Self-injury
  • stigma
  • help-seeking
  • qualitative

Cite this

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title = "‘We’re not monsters ... we’re just really sad sometimes:’ hidden self-injury, stigma and help- seeking",
abstract = "The aim of this article is to provide an insider perspective on experiences of stigmatisation for people who engage in hidden self-injury. The vast majority of self-injury is recognised to be hidden, whereby most people who self-injure do not present to formal health services. By drawing on the data from 20 face-to- face interviews, conducted in community settings, with counselling clients with a history of self-injury and counsellors experienced in working with self-injury, I sought to provide insights into hidden self-injury, stigma and help-seeking. Through a Grounded Theory analysis, three categories were identified: (1) stigma and rejection; (2) fear and the need to rescue; and, (3) secret shame and self-stigma. Each category inter-relates to form the core category, ‘stigma permeates the lives of people who self- injure.’ My research demonstrates that social stigma surrounding self-injury interacts with self-stigma and compounds existent feelings of shame, thus restricting help-seeking and recovery. There is a need for service-providers and policy-makers to become aware of the multifarious manifestations of stigma, which reinforce the devastating impact of self-injury on people’s lives.",
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