This study is an exploration of the ways that female self-mutilation has been medicalized
in Western society and the consequences of this medicalization. The goal of this study is
to provide an alternative approach to the way female self-mutilation is understood one
that views self-mutilation not as a symptom of individual psychopathology, but as an
extreme response to a set of deeply embedded social expectations. Using the feminist
constructionist model, semi-structured interviews were conducted with five women who
have participated in various forms of self-injurious behavior.
Findings indicate that this behavior does indeed occur within a social
context one rooted in patriarchal ideologies. These ideologies also seemed to influence
whether the women in this study, who had been medically treated for this behavior,
perceived this form of intervention as a positive or negative experience.
The topic chosen to explore in this study, female self-mutilation, is a
Deeply personal one. Consequently, writing this thesis has been one of the most
frustrating, as well as, rewarding experiences of my academic career. I am grateful,
Therefore, to have the opportunity to acknowledge and thank those individuals who
Provided a seemingly endless supply of support and encouragement throughout this
First, I would like to thank the five women who participated in this study for
Sharing their deeply personal stories with me. Without their willingness and courage to
Speak out about self-mutilation; this study would not have been possible. I would also
Like to thank the members of my committee for their patience, understanding,
Encouragement, and guidance throughout this very long and, at times, emotionally
Difficult process. This thesis project would not have been completed...