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Title: Intentional self-injury in male prisoners : the role of social status, shame and anger
Author: Todd, Lynda
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2002
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Social Rank Theory (Gilbert, 1992) has proposed that following abusive childhood experiences, an individual remains vulnerable and sensitive to low social status and shame. A perception of low status and feelings of shame may result from rejection, loss of attractiveness or loss of rank. In order to avoid further conflict or an additional loss of status, an individual may attempt to escape the situation or to display behaviours representative of submission. Anger may provide a means of defending against shame, through blaming the other for one's shamed position. Therefore, if the risk is not too great, an individual may enter into conflict with the shaming other. Prisons have often been regarded as exceptionally shame-based institutions. To attack others and become violent may be one means of saving face and avoiding a loss of status, however, aggression toward others may not be adaptive if it will lead to further defeat. Consequently, intentional self-injury may be a more adaptive means of responding to the experiences of shame and anger elicited by a fall in status. The following study therefore aimed to investigate whether intentional self-injury amongst male prisoners related to childhood abuse, low social status, shame and anger. The study involved a comparison of self-injurious (n= 40) and non-self-injurious male prisoners (n=33). Findings suggested that male prisoners who self-injure experience greater childhood emotional abuse, higher levels of situational shame, higher state anger and a greater tendency to suppress their feelings of anger. The theoretical implications of this research are discussed and consideration is given to possible paths for future research. In addition, suggestions are made regarding intervention and practice within the prison system.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available