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Title: Working with mortality in different contexts within counselling psychology
Author: Horrell, Ellisiv Margaret Jenssen
Awarding Body: City University London
Current Institution: City, University of London
Date of Award: 2013
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This study explores the research question of how individuals who experience health anxiety perceive death. Health anxiety can be described as a severe and persistent type of anxiety focused on health which often involves preoccupation with, and misinterpretation of bodily symptoms. People who are anxious about their health have previously been found to have a greater fear of death than other people. Eight participants who presented with symptoms of health anxiety where asked to talk about their perceptions of death. A semi-structured interview schedule was utilized in an attempt to shed further light on these previous findings. An interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) of the data reveals the perception of death as involving three major themes: 'A fragmented self, 'Fear of death- consequences and symbolic threats', and 'Fear-regulation'. It is suggested that the participants hold threatening ideas of death, and that their 'fragmented' perception of self may be related to these threatening perceptions. Also the participants were found to engage in an attempt to regulate their fears. The results of this study are discussed and related to psychological theories which offer useful frameworks within which to understand the participants' perceptions, including Terror Management Theory (Pyszczynski, Greenberg, & Solomon, 1999), Self-discrepancy Theory (Higgins, 1987), and Selfregulation Theory (Muraven, Baumeister, & Tice, 1999). The findings may be used to further research the relevance of these theories within the health anxiety population. Finally, suggestions are made in terms of how these findings may contribute to the development of the psychological treatment of this group of individuals, from a counselling psychology perspective.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available