White Rose University Consortium logo
University of Leeds logo University of Sheffield logo York University logo

A qualitative exploration of the meanings and reasons behind self-cutting

O'Sullivan, David Vincent (2011) A qualitative exploration of the meanings and reasons behind self-cutting. D.Clin.Psychol thesis, University of Leeds.

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales.

Download (948Kb)


This is a qualitative study into the self-reported reasons and functions behind why people cut themselves. It attempted to achieve a deeper and more insightful understanding of this phenomenon from the perspective of those who engage in this behaviour. Multiple semi-structured interviews were conducted with three community-based adult participants recruited via a self-injury selfhelp group. Each participant was interviewed on four separate occasions and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to analyse the transcripts, producing three detailed and comprehensive case studies. Themes and superordinate themes for each participant were identified. Comparisons of the case studies produced four master themes: ‘A need to atone due to perceived blame and unworthiness’; ‘Avoidant coping – regulating by escaping emotional states’;‘Provides a positive sense of self’; and ‘Secondary reasons - A vicious cycle’. These master themes support current thinking, but the case studies also highlight the diversity of the underlying explanations of these overarching themes. The findings also shed further light on the positive aspects which people appear to get from cutting. Clinical implications and suggestions for future research are considered in view of the findings.

Item Type: Thesis (D.Clin.Psychol)
ISBN: 978-0-85731-111-5
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Medicine and Health (Leeds) > Institute of Health Sciences (Leeds) > Academic Unit of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.545709
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2012 09:45
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:24
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2163

You do not need to contact us to get a copy of this thesis. Please use the 'Download' link(s) above to get a copy.
You can contact us about this thesis. If you need to make a general enquiry, please see the Contact us page.

Actions (repository staff only: login required)