An exploration of the experience of self in the social world for men following traumatic brain injury

Anita Freeman, Malcolm Adams, Fiona Ashworth

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28 Citations (Scopus)


This study explores the lived experience of male survivors of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in relation to perceived changes in their personal and social identity. The aim was to provide an understanding of the individuals' sense of self and sources of emotional distress and growth following injury. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine male survivors of TBI (aged 22–59 years). These men were 17 months to 21 years post-injury and were recruited through a UK holistic neuropsychological rehabilitation centre. Transcripts of their accounts were analysed using thematic analysis. Identified dominant themes related to the men's described experience of changes in self relating to their social world, were titled: “abnormality”, “hidden”, “the old-me–new-me” and “others treat me differently”. In response to these emotional experiences the themes of “self-criticism”, “need to be as others want me to be” and “withdrawal” emerged. The identified themes are considered alongside the alternative narrative of “positive growth” in relation to current understanding of identity and “self-conscious” emotions. Future research and clinical implications are suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-215
Number of pages27
JournalNeuropsychological Rehabilitation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2015

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