A Tale of Two Scars: Negotiating identity through interventions on the skin

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Mette Jensine Ingerslev Nedergaard
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
Deep invasions, creating scars become personal-cultural signs that operate as memory devices connecting the personal past with the present in order to anticipate the future. When these memory devices, constantly creating a fluidity of thoughts and feelings, become mediators of the self, we can observe the psychological centrality of the skin. A person is involved in a dialogical process developed from the feelings incorporated in the traumas, creating the scars that represent life-ruptures. The ruptures of the skin become vehicles of meaning making in the process of creating identity.
When the need to understand and describe the phenomenon of having a scar that becomes a memory device and hereby creates identity through meaning making of traumas that connects the memories of the past with the future, the foundation will be put on basic notions that usually will not be considered as related. These theories will be dialogicality, transitions, borders and even skin (as a psychological notion, aside from its biological role).
As for the methodological approach the thesis will build on a single case. This single case is represented by a narrative and semi-structured interview with a woman who has had two Caesarean sections. The important feature of her case is that she only has one visible scar but explains her experiences by identifying her self as having two scars. The single case method holds the ability to emphasize the phenomenon and thus becomes the backbone of the entire design of the research in this thesis in order to understand the choice of a narrative interview as one of the methods in the single case approach. During the interview the participant was observed in order to connect voice, words and body language as for the triangulation in the design.
The chapters of this thesis are all intertwined and thus not strictly composed as an ordinary masters thesis. From the very beginning of the thesis the analysis and interpretation of the data will be incorporated in the text. This is not to confuse the reader or an indication of a lack of professional understanding or mere stupidity. It is a carefully considered and deliberate choice of a compositional structure, since it gives the opportunity to build in the considerations of theoretical and methodological choices in close connection with the phenomena. Also it gives the opportunity to build up the analysis and interpretation in the text in order to create a flow in the rhetoric as well as the relating to the scars.
The skin as a psychological boundary, represented by the scars, related to identity and communication shows to be present in the understanding of the skin as a semi-permeable membrane, where the communication as a flux is regulated and interpreted by the holder of the skin and the scars.
The investigation into the personal meanings of scars allows researchers to investigate the connection between wholes and parts—a perennial problem in psychological theory. The scars themselves become separate voices on the skin and thus become descriptions of the parts of the whole. These voices thus represents the personal-cultural signs that become dominating signs positioned hierarchically as to function as meta-signs promoting a feed-forward function in order to create meaning in advance of time.
In cultural psychology as well as in health psychology this notion can be the first step of investigating how the skin as a communicative boundary is controlled. If it is possible to understand this kind of psychological, embodied control it can create a new understanding of e.g. doctor-patient dialogue or any other asymmetrical communication. The skin will then be understood as a medium through which the world is understood, communicated with, identity is created and thus becomes the focus in the individual meaning making.

LanguageEnglish
Publication date29 May 2015
Number of pages68
ID: 213115560