A Critical View on Emotions and Self-Injury



In this chapter I develop a critical sociological analysis of the use and construction of ‘emotion’ in narratives about self-injury. Emotions in this analysis are viewed as embodied: the analytic gaze is on the embodied person. However my focus here is on how emotions are articulated as separate from, but nonetheless narratively tied, to bodies. Additionally, I consider how such narratives are related to interpersonal and structural contexts. An embodied perspective allows me to address two further issues that have not been closely examined in work on self-injury and emotions. Firstly, I engage with the role of medicine, and professional narratives, in shaping the way in which emotions emerge in accounts of self-injury. Secondly, I argue that the concept of authenticity is important in understanding why emotions have become such a dominant frame of reference when addressing self-injury. This chapter extends theories of emotional management (Hochschild, 2003b). My analysis re-incorporates a concern with bodies and embodiment – a presence which was explicit in Hochschild’s early formulation of emotion work (Hochschild, 1979); but which has become increasingly absent in more recent uses of the concept (see for instance, Theodosius, 2006).


Negative Emotion Emotional Expression Emotional Dysregulation Borderline Personality Disorder Emotional Management 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LincolnLincolnUK

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