Exploring the role of self-disgust in depression in transgender people
Depression is a significant mental health issue in transgender people, with some studies finding the prevalence as high as 62% in male-to-female and 55% in female-to-male transgender persons (Clements-Nolle et al., 2001), where it is associated with an increased incidence of self-harm and suicide. Our recent work has found that the emotion of disgust, especially when self-directed (self-disgust), plays an important role in the development of depression in gender-conforming people (Overton et al., 2008; Powell et al., 2013), and people with physical differences (e.g., cancer patients). Given the combative divide between the psychological and physical self in transgender people, there is strong theoretical reason to expect self-directed disgust reactions to be especially conductive to depression and other mental health problems in this population (cf. Moncrieff-Boyd et al., 2013). Thus, understanding self-directed disgust reactions, and ways to alleviate them, in transgender people is likely to be particularly important. This project will work with transgender participants, identified via support groups and clinical units, across three phases.
Phase 1 will be exploratory and qualitative, using semi-structured interviews to explore disgust and mental health issues in small groups of participants.
Phase 2 will examine disgust responses quantitatively in transgender and gender-conforming people using a longitudinal design.
Phase 3 will explore reducing depressive symptoms in affected individuals via interventions to reduce self-directed disgust. Overall, the project will provide insights into the affective factors underlying a significant mental health issue in a strongly affected social group, and provide ideas about how to ameliorate them going forward.
Requirements: We ask for a good honours degree of 2:1 or above and generally a masters or pending masters (merit or distinction) in Psychology or a related discipline.
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FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.45
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