Self and Identity
We are committed to developing theoretical knowledge that allows us to understand the relationship between identity and health. Our ultimate aim is to use this knowledge to inform real world strategies and interventions to promote individual and societal mental and physical health. We consider ‘self’ as a process, as an ongoing story that involves evaluation and a search for meaning. Our group is particularly interested in developing methodological innovation to enable the exploration of embodied selves and identity.
Broadly, our work is concerned with identity challenges and with the ways in which individuals manage the boundaries of self and the implications for health and wellbeing. We are also interested in the ways in which people communicate their identity through self-representations. We are methodologically pluralistic but particularly use narrative, phenomenological, ethnographic, visual, experimental, and pattern analysis (Q-sort) methods. Our research themes are listed below with examples of completed and ongoing work.
Our research themes are listed below with examples of completed and ongoing work.
This research theme focuses on understanding challenges to, and the reformulation of, identity following major bodily transitions such as those related to organ transplant, bariatric surgery, and brain injury. It also explores the impact of visible difference, stigma and discrimination on identity.
This research theme focuses on the ways in which mental phenomena in the form of unpleasant intrusive thoughts, images, urges, and memories can render the perception of a polluted self. It focuses on examining the beliefs and emotional processes that contribute to and maintain this sense of ‘self as contaminated’ including magical thinking, thought-action fusion, and shame proneness. It also focuses on ways in which feelings of self-contamination might be alleviated.
Making sense of the self
This theme brings together research that focuses on making sense of the self where the self is untypical and/or where visible difference plays a role in representing the self. This is fertile ground for using methodological innovation to explore identity and communicating about the self.
Self-disclosure, shame and recovery
This research theme focuses on how individuals negotiate the process of making self-disclosures, particularly of thoughts, feelings, and experiences that are experienced as shameful or stigmatizing, and the implications of this for their sense of self. It also considers the meaning of recovery in the context of ongoing and potentially stigmatizing conditions and how identity is negotiated in recovery.
2009-2011: Development and initial validation of a measure of recovery for use in specialist mental health services for young people. (PI: Mary John, CI: Laura Simonds funded by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust)
Members of the group are also actively involved in developing and writing about methodological innovation in psychological research
Research group lead
|Sue Jackson||University of West England, Bristol|
|Tinisha Kennedy||Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust|
|Naomi Spokes||Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust|