You want to know why I cut? Reflections on doing research with people who self-injure

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At the core of understanding why people do what they do, they should be posited as authorities on their own behaviour. When a behaviour is sensitive or stigmatised, it can be challenging to facilitate an environment in which their perceptions can be invited, obtained and accurately represented. Drawing upon the qualitative research study presented in the book; Blades, blood and bandages: The experiences of people who self-injure (McShane 2012), on the experiences of 25 people who self-injure, the author offers some methodological reflections relevant to the processes of researching sensitive topics from first-person perspectives. In particular, the paper focuses on challenges highlighted in the course of the research related to recruitment of participants; conducting interviews on sensitive topic matter; motivating factors cited by those who took part; and managing negative effects on both participant and researcher.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Specialist publicationSocial Theory & Health
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2020


  • Self-injury
  • Qualitative
  • Recruitment
  • Interview techniques
  • Sensitive topics
  • Stigma
  • Motivation


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