Stigma and shifts in embodied identity: The experience of mastectomy
Breast cancer and its treatment have significant effects on a bodily, psychological and social level. Although there are many studies of breast cancer and its effects on women’s lives, the research literature that examines the experience of mastectomy and the meaning that women themselves attribute to it is relatively limited. This paper explores
the experience of mastectomy in relation to social representations regarding femininity and health, which provide the context for and affect the personal meaning attributed to the experience, as well as women’s
decisions regarding treatment. The findings of a phenomenological study, based on interviews with eight women that had undergone mastectomy for breast cancer, are presented. The analysis focuses on a
phenomenological description of the experience of mastectomy, whilst taking into account the fact that the female breast has particularly strong connotations of femininity, sexuality and motherhood, that is,
important aspects of women’s identity. It seems that a central aspect of women’s experience of mastectomy is a sense that they are somehow ‘different’ and this sense is associated with a stigmatised identity. The ways in which women seem to manage the double stigma, associated with the identity of a cancer patient and with that of a ‘deficient’ woman, are further discussed in the paper.
- How to Cite
Αυδή Ε., Ζηλιασκοπούλου Δ., & Ρούσση Π. (2020). Stigma and shifts in embodied identity: The experience of mastectomy. Psychology: The Journal of the Hellenic Psychological Society, 19(2), 144–159. https://doi.org/10.12681/psy_hps.23613
- Vol. 19 No. 2 (2012)
- SPECIAL SECTION
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