Self harm in adolescence: the context of the real versus virtual environment and Emo and Gothic subcultures

Alena Černá, David Šmahel

Abstract

The article focuses on self harming as maladaptive coping strategy in adolescents. The role of real and virtual environment of adolescents, which is important for this phenomenon, is emphasized. The research is of explorative character, data has been collected through half-structured online interviews with 9 adolescent girls aged 15 through 18, who write about self harming on their blogs (online diaries), and analysed using the grounded theory method.
It has been found that both real and virtual environment can have a huge impact on the emergence of self harming behavior in adolescents, its character and experiencing. Both environments might act as a medium for spreading knowledge of self harming and even as a source of self harming itself. Although the self harming online community is being looked at as supportive, it did not bring an end to self harming behavior in the case of our respondents, unlike the real social environment. On the contrary, the risk of normalisation of this behavior by sharing information on blogs occurred. The real social environment is then an important helper in ending the self harming behavior. The intersection of real and virtual environment of adolescents might be the Emo and Gothic subcultures. The connection of subcultures and self harming is being widely discussed by media in these days. In our research we did not prove such a connection.

(Fulltext in Czech)

Keywords

self harm, communities, subcultures, Emo, Gothic

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