Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 9 Issue 6 (November/December 1999), Pages 397-482

Locating culture in accounting for self‐harm amongst Asian young women (pages 413-433)

Abstract

Epidemiological studies have suggested that the incidence of self‐harm is on the increase in the UK especially amongst Asian young women. Explanations of ‘culture clash’ and Asian culture as pathogenic are prevalent in clinical psychological research. This paper reports findings from interviews with seven Asian young women with a history of self‐harm and eight interviews with service providers. A discursive analysis of the accounts indicates diverse construals of self‐harm, which include ‘release from distress’, ‘ending it all’, ‘effecting change’ and ‘(taking) control’, which are located within narratives of distressful circumstances. These accounts implicate ‘Asian’ culture in diverse ways including in relation to the creation and maintenance of distress and to the access of pathways to support and care. These accounts are used to explore some implications for service provision that include: sites and sources of support and forms of care. It is argued that clinical psychological research and practice should make central patients'/clients' meanings and needs (as located within broad socio‐cultural circumstances) rather than privileging ‘culture’ to the neglect of other concerns. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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