Exploring the experience of living with an acquired facial disfigurement
Coles 2011 MA.doc (400Kb)
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This paper explores the lived experience of acquiring a facial disfigurement and the psychological impact of that. Three adults; one woman and two men who have an acquired facial disfigurement were recruited via the charity ‘Lets Face It’. Semi-structured telephone interviews were audio recorded and rigorously analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). This is an experiential qualitative approach concerned with engaging lived experiences attempting to strike a balance between interpretation (making sense of it in terms of existing psychological knowledge) and phenomenology (getting close to the experience and also using it to show itself in its own light). Four superordinate themes were identified; (1) Alienation: feeling socially isolated by fear and misunderstandings of others (2) Recurring loss: experienced physically, emotionally and especially socially. They described experiences of ongoing loss in their everyday lives (3) Existential projects to sustain identity in the face of loss and alienation. They articulated existential projects or life projects to help make sense of themselves and their troubled relationships. (4) Novel perspectives on life. Some gained novel outlooks on life; feeling fortunate or alternatively, resenting life. Future research may address the experience of facial disfigurement in cultures, with different ideals of beauty or understanding of disfigurement.