Blurring Boundaries Between Researcher and Participant: The Ethical Use of a Psychoanalytically Informed Research Interview

  • Clare HarveyEmail author


This chapter is a reflection on remaining ethical when collecting participant information using the psychoanalytically informed research interview. The specific ethical tensions include when participants relate to researchers as confidants and advice-givers, and how to approach such emotionally demanding work. The author shares how she attempted to ethically manage encounters with participants using examples from her study on maternal subjectivity in which able-bodied mothers raising visibly, physically disabled children were interviewed. The author also has a visible physical disability, as does her daughter. Unexpectedly, participants turned the interview relationship around, asking her questions as they shared certain particularities and experiences. The researcher describes how she ethically managed this blurring of roles. She argues for constant psychoanalytic-researcher reflexivity to manage these complex emotional encounters.



Parts of this chapter were originally published in:

Harvey, C. (2017). The intricate process of psychoanalytic research: encountering the intersubjective experience of the researcher-participant relationship. British Journal of Psychotherapy 33(3), 312–327. Thanks to the British Journal of Psychotherapy for agreeing to my using some of the material in this chapter.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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