Thesis

The queer experience of self injury : a phenomenological approach to cutting

What is the experience of queer individuals that practice self-injury? What are the meanings that can be made from their practices? A descriptive phenomenological method was used to interview seven individuals between 18 and 28 years old who identified as a gender or sexual minority. The interviews were conducted over email and designed to elicit a descriptive narrative of the last or most memorable time participants had practiced self-injury—specifically had cut themselves. The narratives were then analyzed using descriptive phenomenological methodologies to produce an essential experience of the erotic experience of cutting. Key findings include: integration and connection of the participant’s self when cutting; the ways subject and object blurred for participants; tools of harm, including their meanings and relationships with participants; and the way cutting was erotic for participants. The research suggests that queer identity influences their relationship to their self, their body and cutting by creating a queerer personhood.

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