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A Thematic Analysis of the Social Implications of Facial Disfigurement

McKenzie, Rebecca (2011) A Thematic Analysis of the Social Implications of Facial Disfigurement. Coventry University.

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Abstract

The presence of facial disfigurement has been demonstrated to have a profound effect on social encounters. However, little is known about why those that are facially disfigured report feeling isolated and even avoided because of their treatment by members of society. These reports are consistent despite the severity and variety of facial disfigurements. The current study investigated in a qualitative manner the influence that facial disfigurement holds when it is seen as a phenomenological experience. In total, eight respondents recruited through an opportunity sample participated in a series of two focus groups. The data was then transcribed and analysed in a thematic manner in order to identify the overarching themes. The data analysis revealed four key super-ordinate theme areas: Perceived and actual acceptance levels of the facially disfigured; experience and impact of cultural, media and societal norms; perception and judgements of the facially disfigured; and experience of beauty. Due to the perceiver’s perspective taken throughout the current study, findings have been novel. The set of themes that have been developed can be applied to previous research and can be used to examine surrounding factors that may substantiate isolating behaviour demonstrated towards the facially disfigured. The set of themes developed adds further understanding to the potential underlying reasons why those with facial disfigurements are viewed as abnormal and are treated as such in day-to-day society. The themes indicated that elements that may be seen as mundane within a societal setting could have considerable impact on the day-to-day lives of those living with a facial disfigurement.

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