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Title: The role of persecutory self-attacking in persecutory delusions
Author: Hutton, Paul
ISNI:       0000 0001 3585 5349
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2008
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Over the past two decades much research has examined the psychological mechanisms involved in persecutory delusions, leading to the development of competing psychological models (Freeman et aI., 2002; Bentall et aI., 2001). Mills, Gilbert, Bellew and McEwan et aI., (2007) suggest an additional perspective on paranoia can be gained by exploring the way human capacities for dealing with threats have evolved. They note paranoid individuals have a heightened sensitivity to threats from others, and when threat is detected this provokes a defence of anger and aggression. Furthermore, and of relevance to the present study, they propose this angry and aggressive way of relating to others can be internalised, leading to emotional distress. Consistent with this theory, they found that students with paranoid beliefs tended to engage in heightened self-attacking of a 'hateful' nature, which seemed to have a 'self-persecutory' function. Using a cross-sectional design and questionnaire methodology the primary objective of the current study is to ascertain whether people with persecutory delusions engage in self-attacking of a hateful and persecutory nature in comparison to people with depression and in comparison to healthy controls. This study also seeks to collate exploratory data enabling the development of hypotheses about the links between self-attacking and (l) emotional distress, (2) an individual's perception of why others may attack them and how this relates to their own self-attacks; (3) perceived deservedness of persecution (Melo, Taylor, & BentalI, in press; Trower & Chadwick, 1995) and (4) recovery style (Drayton, Birchwood, & Trower, 1998). The results suggest that people with persecutory delusions engage in more selfattacking of a persecutory nature than healthy control subjects, less self-reassurance but also less self-corrective self-criticism. Exploratory data is presented suggesting the forms and functions of self-attacking and self-criticism are associated the perceived forms and functions of others-attacking, that hateful self-attacking and selfcriticism are strongly associated with emotional distress in this group, and that treating oneself as inadequate is associated with perceived deservedness of persecution. The results are discussed within the context of the current theoretical understanding of persecutory delusions and in the context of the methodological limitations the current study. Recommendations for future research and the possible clinical implications of the findings are also discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available