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Title: Identity and sexual identity in men with learning disabilities
Author: Withers, Paul Stanley
ISNI:       0000 0001 3571 1759
Awarding Body: University of Wales, Bangor
Current Institution: Bangor University
Date of Award: 1997
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Four men with mild learning disabilities who were known to have had sexual contacts with other men completed semi-structured interviews aimed at eliciting information about the identities they had formed in relation to their sexuality and their learning disabilities. The interview data was transcribed and analysed using a qualitative methodology, Grounded Theory. Diagrammatic and verbal descriptions of the identities formed by the participants were produced, and common emerging themes were outlined, facilitating the generation of theories about how men with learning disabilities form identities. These were compared with existing knowledge about sexual identity formation in the non-learning disabled population, and with historical information about the development of homosexual identities. Men with learning disabilities were found to form quite different sexual identities to those formed by their non-learning disabled peers. Two participants were engaged in struggles to avoid having sexual identities, and a third had a fluctuating identity. Some of the identity solutions reached by participants could be better understood by making reference to historical, rather than contemporary, understandings of sexual identity. For all the participants, awareness of their learning disabilities had a marked impact upon their sexual identity, and disability itself also influenced identity formation. The roles of self-esteem, age, social context, negative experiences and individual coping strategies in identity formation were examined, as were the impacts of sexual identity upon psychological well-being and the practice of safer sex. Clinical and Theoretical implications of the findings were outlined, such as the need for support of self-determined adaptive coping strategies, and the possible relationship between intellectual ability and the ability to form healthy sexual identities. In addition, implications for the understanding of sexuality in non-learning disabled people were noted and directions for future research were indicated
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Homosexuality