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Advantages and disadvantages of self-harm message boards from the viewpoint of adolescent self-harmers

Pasma, A. (2009) Advantages and disadvantages of self-harm message boards from the viewpoint of adolescent self-harmers.

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Abstract:Virtual communities for self-harmers are rising, as self-harm seems to be increasing among adolescents. The effect these virtual groups can have, is that self-harming behavior is normalized and therefore negatively influenced. Apart from this negative influence and other disadvantages, online support groups for self-harmers also have some advantages. However, self-harm message boards are only studied by method of content analyses and questionnaires and it is therefore not known what the actual advantages and disadvantages are. The present study therefore explored the advantages, disadvantages and reasons for visiting the community from the viewpoint of self-injurers themselves. A semi-structured interview was conducted with members (n=12), non-members (n=7) and past members (n=5) of self-harm discussion groups. The findings indicate that the majority of respondents viewed the message board as both having negative and positive effects at the same time. The most striking advantages and disadvantages that emerged from the interviews were: receiving acknowledgement and attention, dependency and a bad atmosphere. Respondents who did not engage in self-harm message boards had a more negative viewpoint towards self-harm message boards. This article demonstrates that the influence online support groups have on self-harmers is extensive and can influence self-harming behavior positively as well as negatively. Further research should focus on transforming the negative influence self-harm message boards have on adolescents into a more positive one
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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