Hackmann, A. (2016). ‘The Pen and the Blade’: An Intuitive inquiry comparing the experiences of the acts of self harm by cutting and the writing and voicing of poetry as a response to overwhelming or unmanageable emotions [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Alef Trust & Middlesex University.

The purpose of this intuitive inquiry has been to examine the acts of self harm by cutting and the writing and voicing of expressive poetry. Having personal experience of these two areas, I had noticed commonalities within the experience of both. This piece of work was designed to explore the unique features and dynamics inherent in each act and look into any commonalities in experience and effects, as well as the functions they may serve for the individual partaking in these activities. The qualitative method of intuitive inquiry was followed (Anderson, 2011; 2014). As researcher, this approach heavily involved myself, as I immersed myself within the research process. I felt the strong need to talk to and involve other people in the research to gain furtherinsights and perspectives. Twenty three participants were recruited (completed and returned questionnaires) in total, fifteen who self harmed and eight who wrote poetry at times of unmanageable emotions. Their experiences, stories and insights provided a richness of material and an external anchor for me. I feel there is an inherent fear and lack of insight into self harm, and also fear surrounding writing. I felt the need to give these individuals a voice. Parallels between self harming and writing during times of overwhelming emotion have been observed, as has the importance of the point at which the two activities have been seen to part company. The processing stage, where healing becomes possible.

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