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SCARRING: THE DISEMBODIED EMBODIMENT Lived experiences of women affected by permanent, non-facial scarring PowerPoint Presentation
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SCARRING: THE DISEMBODIED EMBODIMENT Lived experiences of women affected by permanent, non-facial scarring. Presented by Lee Kofman , PhD candidate School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning RMIT University. SCARRING – A BRIEF OVERVIEW .

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SCARRING: THE DISEMBODIED EMBODIMENTLived experiences of women affected by permanent, non-facial scarring

Presented by

Lee Kofman, PhD candidate

School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning

RMIT University

scarring a brief overview
SCARRING – A BRIEF OVERVIEW
  • In the developed world approximately 100 million people acquire scarring each year (Bayat et al 2003)
  • Scarring is often resistant to cosmetic procedures
  • Scarring is considered to be a disfigurement
  • Evidence suggests psychosocial difficulties are common amongst people with disfigurements
  • There is no current healthcare provision in Australia targeted at emotional and social needs of people affected by permanent, non-facial scarring
scarring the disembodied embodiment project summary
SCARRING: THE DISEMBODIED EMBODIMENTPROJECT SUMMARY
  • a qualitative, exploratory study that will investigate effects of permanent, non-facial scarring on the lived experiences of adult women.
  • The focus is on appearance-related effects of scarring on women’s sense of identity, their well being, life choices & life chances
  • How women cope, and in particular whether they employ deliberate strategies to cope, will be explored too, to ascertain whether these women have unmet needs.
  • Particular attention will be paid to the interplay between inner & outer dimensions
study context body well being in contemporary society
STUDY CONTEXT – BODY & WELL BEING IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY

Today, in their search for happiness, and even salvation, people turn not to the soul, but body

The relationship between identity and body has become symbiotic

For women, beauty has become an absolute, religious imperative... a form of capital

If we don’t possess a ‘presentable’ body, a social punishment is expected. Especially if we are women

study context
STUDY CONTEXT

For far too long the attention has been on denouncing ‘perfect bodies’. It’s time we turned to investigating the feelings, the experiences and the sheer diversity of imperfect ones.

Elspeth Probyn (2004)

dominant discourses on scarring trivialisation
DOMINANT DISCOURSES ON SCARRING:TRIVIALISATION
  • ‘Cool guys who live lives of action and adventure always have great stories about the scars they've gotten in their travels’ blogger http://www.montykins.com/mkins/000375.html
  • ‘Scars are imprints of traumas once present and now left behind, vestiges that serve as distinct reminders of the injuries that body and psyche have encountered’ Rose Emily Rothenberg, therapist and author
  • ‘To be wounded is to be opened to the world; it is to be pushed off the straight, fixed, and predictable path of certainty... one’s perception sharpens… through wounding one may enter a crossroads… from a superficial life of distance to a more intimate and penetrating awareness of being in a far richer place’ Dennis Patrick Slattery, therapist, academic & author
scarring bringing in context
SCARRING - BRINGING IN CONTEXT
  • What most scholars of the body have in common are their efforts to deconstruct the notion of corporeality as a merely ‘natural’, ‘organic’ entity
scarring bringing in context10
SCARRING - BRINGING IN CONTEXT

Understanding disfigurements as a contextual phenomenon

According to Robert Brain (1979), in some tribes scarification denotes the irreversible changes in the life of an individual, e.g. for women the birth of a child. Without them, the individuals’ experiences are not seen to have registered, their lives lack meaning and their bodies lack beauty.

Artist / photographer John Broadbent

existing studies of scarring aetiological focus
EXISTING STUDIES OF SCARRING – AETIOLOGICAL FOCUS
  • Intentional scarification - body modification & self-harm
  • Traumatic aetiology, e.g. burns
  • Ongoing/acute health problems, e.g. cancer
exusting studies of scarring visibility focus
EXUSTING STUDIES OF SCARRING – VISIBILITY FOCUS
  • When literature is ‘embodied’ (focuses on appearance issues), it mainly researches the most visible – facial - scarring
  • However, literature cannot demonstrate consistently that visibility is a key variable in the impact of disfigurements on individuals
  • As a result, as Rumsey, Clarke, White, Wyn-Williams & Garlick (2004, p.445) suggest, ‘people with “minor” problems may be being overlooked’.
  • Permanent, non-facial scarring can arguably be viewed as a relatively minor disfigurement, since more often than not it can be concealed from the public gaze.
existing studies of scarring individual interpersonal focus
EXISTING STUDIES OF SCARRING – INDIVIDUAL/INTERPERSONAL FOCUS
  • Psychological perspective dominates studies of scarring
  • Studies (mainly quantitative) are usually not grounded in the social/cultural context
  • Instead, language of individual pathology dominates; body image is an important concept
  • Unclear correlation
  • Theoretical frameworks – mostly psychological scales or symbolic interactionist theory (Hoffman etc.)
sampling parameters
SAMPLING PARAMETERS
  • Gender limit: women
  • Age limit: adult women aged between twenty one and sixty years
  • Age limit of scarring: scarring has been present for at least five years
  • Aetiological limit: scarring has not been associated with any known current and/or ongoing health issues and/or with physical impairments (self-selection)
  • To capture a range of experiences of scarring within the constraints of my sampling, I will attempt recruiting the widest possible range of respondents in terms of other variables, e.g. marital status, ethnicity and the variety of sizes and bodily locations of their scarring
means of recruitment
MEANS OF RECRUITMENT
  • Personal & professional electronic networks
  • Advertisement leaflets on noticeboards in universities
  • Advertisement leaflets in outpatient (e.g. paramedical) clinics offering treatment for scarring in Melbourne
  • Advertisement on the RMIT website
  • Possibly articles about the study in local newspapers
methodology bringing in context creativity
METHODOLOGY: BRINGING IN CONTEXT & CREATIVITY
  • Semi-structured, in-depth interviews with open-ended questions
  • Creative methodology:
  • photolanguage cards
  • photo creation
  • creative writing techniques
final note quality of life and dominant discourses
FINAL NOTE:QUALITY OF LIFE AND DOMINANT DISCOURSES

‘People can discover how to relate to themselves and to others more positively when armed with images of themselves – images which counteract the stereotypes usually seen in the mass media’

Jo Spence

selected references
SELECTED REFERENCES
  • Baudrillard, J 1998, The consumer society: myths & structures, SAGE Publications, London
  • Bayat, A, McGrouther, DA & Ferguson, MWJ 2003, ‘Skin scarring’, BMJ, vol.326, no.7380, pp.88-92
  • Berry, B 2007, Beauty Bias: Discrimination and Social Power, Praeger, Westport
  • Davis, LJ 2005, ‘Visualising the disabled body’ in Fraser, M & Greco, M (eds.), The Body: A Reader, Routledge, London & New York, pp.167-181
  • Featherstone, M 2007, Consumer culture & postmodernism, SAGE, London
  • Kent, G & Keohane, S 2001, ‘Social anxiety & disfigurement: the moderating effects of fear of negative evaluation & past experience’, British Journal of Clinical Psychology, no. 40, March, pp.23-34
  • Kleve, L & Robinson, E 1999, ‘A survey of psychological need amongst adult burn-injured patients’, Burns, vol.25, no.7, November, pp.575-579
  • Kleve, L, Rumsey, N, Wyn-Williams, M & White, P 2002, ‘The effectiveness of cognitive-behavioural interventions provided at Outlook: a disfigurement support unit’, Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, vol.8, no.4, pp.387-395
  • Rumsey, N & Harcourt, D 2005, The Psychology of Appearance, Open University Press, New York
  • Schilling, C 1993, The body and social theory, Sage Publications, London
recruitment advertisement
RECRUITMENT ADVERTISEMENT
  • As a PhD candidate at RMIT I am currently undertaking the first Australian study to explore lived experiences of women, who have non-facial scars. I am interested in hearing stories about what it feels like living as a woman with scarring in the contemporary world. The findings will have implications for providing a better healthcare to women with non-facial scarring.
  • Are you aged between 20 and 60?
  • Have your non-facial scars been acquired at least five years ago?
  • If this is the case, and if your scarring is not related to any ongoing health issues, I will love to hear from you. If you are interested in participating, and/or would like more information, please contact Lee Kofman on 04-19008292 or via email lee.kofman@rmit.edu.au
  • All communications will be strictly confidential.