Narrative identities and self-constructs of individuals with histories of sexual and violent offences

Walji, Irram and Weatherhead, Stephen (2015) Narrative identities and self-constructs of individuals with histories of sexual and violent offences. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This thesis explores the narrative identities and self-constructs of individuals with histories of sexual and violent offences. It comprises of three sections: a systematic literature review of individuals’ accounts of sexually abusing children, an empirical research study exploring the narratives of individuals with violent offending histories after engagement in schema therapy, and a critical appraisal reflecting on the relational aspects of doing qualitative research in forensic contexts. The literature review is a meta-synthesis integrating eleven studies. The findings indicate individuals who have sexually abused children develop narratives of negating harm or of mutuality, facilitating ongoing abuse and leading to self-constructs dis-identifying themselves from dominant discourses of “sex offender” identities. The review presents a framework for considering offence processes within diverse forms of sexually harmful behaviours, identifying shared perspectives among heterogeneous groups. It also highlights how social constructions of this population can distance professionals, and individuals themselves, from personal narratives thus inhibiting meaningful considerations of risk and rehabilitation. The research study explores the narratives of nine individuals from medium and high secure settings with histories of violent or sexual offending, who have engaged in schema therapy. Narrative analysis of transcripts identified self-constructs presented in interviews. Developing coherent and holistic narratives through schema therapy facilitates integration of offender identities within a more holistic self-construct integrating a multiplicity of selves. Individuals can then relate differently to themselves and others, suggesting reductions in risk of reoffending. Relationally secure contexts were crucial for therapeutic gains, and the study emphasises the fundamental importance of relational security for effective forensic rehabilitation. The focus of the critical appraisal is congruent with the central role of relational aspects throughout the literature review and research study. Reflections are presented on interactions with participants, relating to written and spoken data, supervision, therapeutic relationships, and impacts of these on the thesis.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
?? sexual offendingviolent offendingschema therapynarrative analysismetasynthesisqualitative ??
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18 Jun 2015 06:18
Last Modified:
31 Dec 2023 00:06