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Exploring the subjectivities of people with alopecia areata - a critical qualitative study to inform applied psychology practice

Davey, Louise

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Authors

Louise Davey



Abstract

Alopecia areata (AA) is an unpredictable appearance changing hair loss condition that biomedicine is currently powerless to cure. The physical symptoms are not painful or life-threatening but people living with AA report high levels of distress and appear to struggle to develop effective coping strategies (Hunt & McHale, 2004). Little qualitative research exists to provide insight into what it is like to live with AA or what support may help to ameliorate the distress associated with it. This study contributes to the predominantly mainstream visible difference literature by exploring experiences of living with AA from a critical perspective. A poststructuralist feminist approach was used that attends to discourse, embodiment and agency in the constitution of subjectivity in order to explore meanings, distress and resistance in the accounts of women and men living with this condition. Data were collected via an online qualitative survey and face to face interviews. They were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006; 2013; 2019).

Three themes were identified 1) Transgressing appearance norms: Restricted and shameful subjectivities 2) Submitting and resisting: Performances and performativity in the management of hair loss, and 3) Changing subjects? Acceptance, relationships and growth. Together these capture the discursive constitution of subjectivity, the oppressive subjective power of normative discourses, and the processes through which agency is performed and change becomes possible. Consideration was given throughout the research process to the relevance of this study to applied psychology practice. This shaped the development of the data collection, analysis, discussion and conclusions which emphasise the power of relational encounters to both reinforce distressing meanings, and provide validating recognition that can create new subjective possibilities. The congruence between critical qualitative research and the discipline of counselling psychology is explored and the case is put for greater emphasis on this in the identity of the profession.

Citation

Davey, L. Exploring the subjectivities of people with alopecia areata - a critical qualitative study to inform applied psychology practice. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from https://uwe-repository....ribe.com/output/3236744

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Oct 23, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 2, 2020
Public URL https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/3236744

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