Experiences of relating with the self and others amidst living with fibromyalgia

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Haig, Caroline
  • Subject: BF697 | HM1106 | RC0927.3

There is a paucity of research that explores how people with Fibromyalgia (FMS) relate to themselves and others, with a particular focus on childhood experiences, mentalization and attachment theory. Ten people with FMS participated in semi-structured interviews, which explored the following areas: Important current relationships, experiences with others and childhood experiences of relationships. Stress and coping were also explored. Interview transcriptions were investigated using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith & Osborn, 2003). The following three superordinate themes were identified: “The power of painful childhood experiences”, “the connection between stress and relating to others” and “interpersonal stress is wedded to illness”. Among the participants, childhood was characterised by abuse, illness, bereavement or parental discord. These early events related to various adult consequences in terms of how others and the self were related to. Mirroring childhood experiences, adult relations were often described as destructive. Interpersonal stress was wedded to illness in that others were perceived as invalidating or as ignorant of the suffering experienced. Illness tended to be described as leading to isolation and increased vulnerability to abuse. Literature pertaining to FMS, attachment and mentalization theory was useful in informing the interpretation. Limitations, clinical implications and directions for future research are discussed.
  • References (5)

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    Smith, J. A., Flowers, P., & Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretative phenomenological analysis: Theory, method and research. London: Sage Publications.

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