An exploration of the experience of people with a history of childhood physical abuse and mental health problems

Prof Doc Thesis

Healey, Louise 2008. An exploration of the experience of people with a history of childhood physical abuse and mental health problems. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsHealey, Louise
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Associations have been reported between childhood physical abuse (CPA) and
symptoms associated with psychotic experiences, such as delusions (e.g. Mundy,
Robertson, Roberston and Greenblatt, 1990). Little attention has been given by the
research literature to the subjective experience of CPA and mental health problems
such as delusional beliefs.
In the present study nine adults who had experienced CPA and later mental health
problems including delusional beliefs were interviewed. Interpretative
Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to explore the personal experiences of
participants who have CPA histories and had experienced delusional ideas.
Exploration included examining whether participants' accounts of the impact of
CPA and experiences of adulthood problems including delusions were similar to
each other in any phenomenological way.
Three super-ordinate themes, all of which had a number of subordinate themes
emerged from the analysis. The themes covered how participants responded and
coped as children and adolescents to their abusive home environments and how, as
adults, they experienced and responded in very similar ways to other circumstances
such as interpersonal relationships and their mental health problems. How
participants experienced delusional beliefs comprised the second theme, followed by
the ways in which participants thought their physical abuse histories had continued
to affect them into adulthood.
To some extent the findings supported previously published work on CPA and adult
sequelae. The analysis revealed a commonality of themes running through
.childhood to adulthood experiences which provided diffuse rather than specific
answers to the research questions. The study provided some evidence that
participants perceived connections between their childhood and adulthood
experiences. The implication of the study for research and clinical practice are

Publication dates
PrintMay 2008
Publication process dates
Deposited30 Jun 2014
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