Reinforce chapter themes with free access to two journal articles for each chapter and further online readings. Select chapters will also include suggested weblinks.
Discussion Points: How is identity understood in the context of this research? What factors affect individual’s construction of their own identity?
Discussion Points: How does data collection by government agencies enable us to better understand issues around identity and health?
Journal Article 20.3: Fuchs, C. E., van Gellen, S. M., van Geel, R., et al. (2012) ‘Health and identity: Self-positioning in adolescent chronic fatigue syndrome and juvenile idiopathic arthritis’, Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry 18(3): 383–97.
Description: The aim of this study is to gain more insight into basic aspects of identity, in relation to adolescent chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). In dialogical self theory, identity is regarded as incorporating multiple self-positions, such as ‘I as tired’, ‘I as pessimistic’, or ‘I as decisive’. Physical and psychosocial impairment might alter the organization of these self-positions. The Personal Position Repertoire procedure, a quantitative method to analyze the prominence of self-positions, the Child Health Questionnaire, assessing health-related functioning, and the Checklist Individual Strength, measuring fatigue, were completed by 42 adolescents with CFS, 37 adolescents with JIA and 23 healthy teenagers. Adolescents with JIA report impaired physical functioning and general health. However, they position themselves very similar to healthy teenagers – i.e. as strong and healthy. While this self-positioning approach might be adequate and sustainable in adolescence, it could prove too strenuous to maintain throughout adult life. Adolescents with CFS, besides indicating severe physical difficulties, also report more psychosocial problems. They position themselves as significantly less strong and more unwell. With this emphasis on positions relating to their illness, there seems to be little room left for stronger positions. It is regarded of clinical importance to address these issues in this crucial developmental period.
Journal Article 20.4: Richards, J., Holttum, S. and Springham, N. (2016) ‘How do “mental health professionals” who are also or have been “mental health service Users” construct their identities?’ SAGE Open 6(1).
Description: “Mental health professionals” are increasingly speaking out about their own experiences of using mental health services. However, research suggests that they face identity-related dilemmas because social conventions tend to assume two distinct identities: “professionals” as relatively socially powerful and “patients” as comparatively powerless. The aim of this study was, through discourse analysis, to explore how “mental health professionals” with “mental health service user” experience “construct” their identity. Discourse analysis views identity as fluid and continually renegotiated in social contexts. Ten participants were interviewed, and the interviews were transcribed and analyzed. Participants constructed their identity variously, including as separate “professional” and “patient” identities, switching between these in relation to different contexts, suggesting “unintegrated” identities. Participants also demonstrated personally valued “integrated” identities in relation to some professional contexts. Implications for clinical practice and future research are explored. Positive identity discourses that integrate experiences as a service user and a professional included “personhood” and insider “activist,” drawing in turn on discourses of “personal recovery,” “lived experience,” and “use of self.” These integrated identities can potentially be foregrounded to contribute to realizing the social value of service user and other lived experience in mental health workers, and highlighting positive and hopeful perspectives on mental distress.