Childhood Psychological Maltreatment and Perception of Self, Others, and Relationships: A Phenomenological Exploration
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Using a qualitative approach this thesis aimed to investigate perception of self, others, and relationships in individuals with a history of chronic, childhood, parental, childhood, psychological maltreatment. Six participants (3 staff; 3 clients) from low-cost counselling agency completed a semi-structured interview designed to assess perceptions of self, others, and relationships. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis yielded four superordinate themes: shame-based perception of self; self-protection from emotional pain; egocentric perception of others; and shame-based roles in relationships. The results of this study were compared with current literature on childhood maltreatment, including psychological maltreatment, and perception of self, others, and relationships, and significant similarities were found between research to date and the findings of this study. Theoretical links were then made to Bowlby’s (1969) attachment theory. The findings of this study suggest that psychological maltreatment has significant, pervasive, deleterious consequences for the individual’s perception of self-worth, awareness of others, and interpersonal functioning, and implies that childhood psychological maltreatment merits greater attention and investigation, especially the issue of perception of others.