Self-harm vs. harming others: The lived experiences of a dysfunctional family

Hsiu Chin Wu, Mei Feng Lin, Shu Hua Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experiences of self-harm and harm to others from the perspective of two adult offspring and a father, the latter of whom was prone to alcohol abuse and domestic violence and had attempted suicide. Written informed consents were obtained from the subjects after a detailed explanation of the research aims and procedures. A qualitative, phenomenological method was applied for the study. Three subjects were interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide designed by the researchers and based on the aims of the study over a six-month period of home care. A qualitative content analysis based on a phenomenological method was used to identify themes in the data. Two main categories emerged: (1) the mutual harm to the couple subsystem, (2) the misplaced parental-child subsystem. Subsequently, two to four themes were identified from each category. These results provide a better analysis and understanding of the perceived experiences of the harm to the spouse, parental, and sibling subsystems. They should also help health professionals to improve awareness of the lived experiences associated with the issues of self-harm and threats of harm to others. This study could serve as a valuable reference in promoting possible prevention strategies aiming at the reduction of self-harm and harm to others in dysfunctional families within the community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-63
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nursing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Oct

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Nursing


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