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The corporeality of living stressful femininity: a gender–theoretical analysis of young Swedish women’s stress experiences
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå Centre for Gender Studies (UCGS). Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Psychiatry. (Stress and Health in Youth (Umeå SHY))
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå Centre for Gender Studies (UCGS). Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Physiotherapy. (Stress and Health in Youth (Umeå SHY))
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Physiotherapy. (Stress and Health in Youth (Umeå SHY))
2014 (English)In: Young - Nordic Journal of Youth Research, ISSN 1103-3088, E-ISSN 1741-3222, Vol. 22, no 3, 271-289 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article analyzes young Swedish women’s experiences of living stressful femininity from an existentialist gender theoretical perspective. The study is based on qualitative interviews with 25 women, aged 17–25, who had registered for a stress management course at a youth health centre. Our analysis suggests that their experiences of stress can be related to the renegotiation of gender constructions that have occurred within the Swedish society. The young female subject can be viewed as living through a historic break between a historical position as a subordinated ‘Other’ while simultaneously having to navigate within contemporary discourses of successful femininity. The doing of normative femininity resulted in an exhausting and draining self-evaluating circle. The experiences of having a painful and collapsing body led to a sense of loss of access to and confidence in their bodies. This should be understood as a loss both of subjectivity and connectedness with the corporeality of existence.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2014. Vol. 22, no 3, 271-289 p.
Keyword [en]
stress, mental health, gender, gender theory, embodiment, corporeality, phenomenology, post-feminism
Keyword [sv]
stress, psykisk ohälsa, kropp, kroppslighet, genus, genusteori, fenomenologi, postfeminism
National Category
Physiotherapy
Research subject
genusvetenskap; Psychiatry; Physiotherapy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88758DOI: 10.1177/0973174114533464ISI: 000342825600004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-88758DiVA: diva2:717255
Projects
Umeå SHY
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 521-2005-4848
Available from: 2014-05-14 Created: 2014-05-14 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Skapa rum. Ung femininitet, kroppslighet och psykisk ohälsa: genusmedveten hälsofrämjande intervention.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Skapa rum. Ung femininitet, kroppslighet och psykisk ohälsa: genusmedveten hälsofrämjande intervention.
2014 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Create space. Young femininity, body and mental health : a gender sensitive and health promoting intervention.
Abstract [en]

Mental health problems among young people, girls and young women in particular, are a serious public health problem. Gendered patterns of mental illness are seen in conjunction with stress-related problems such as anxiety, depression, and psychosomatic complaints. Intervention models tailored to the health care situation are therefore in need of development and evaluation. The overall aim of this thesis is to develop knowledge and understanding for young women’s mental health, stress-related, and bodily problems from a psychosomatic and gender theory perspective, and to evaluate a gender sensitive physiotherapeutic intervention model consisting of a stress management course for young women with stress-related problems.

The thesis consists of four studies. The overall research design combines qualitative and quantitative methods in which questionnaires and interviews were used to explore participant experiences and symptoms linked to perceived stress before and after the intervention. Data consisted of a cumulative sample of 65 young women, 16 to 25 years of age, who attended the youth-friendly health center because of stress-related problems. In paper I, multiple symptom areas of mental health and somatic problems, self-image and aspects of body perception were measured before the course. Participants were 47 of the young women. The results were compared with published normative and clinical reference groups. In paper II, the young women’s experiences of living stressful femininity were analysed with a qualitative content analysis using gender theoretical and phenomenological perspectives as an interpretative frame. The study was based on interviews with 25 of the women. In paper III, follow-up interviews were done with 32 of the women after completion of the course. Data was using qualitative content analysis to illuminate experiences of participating in the course. In paper IV, the course was evaluated by measuring changes in multiple symptom areas using the Adult Self Report (ASR), Social Analysis of Social Behaviour (SASB), and Body Perception Questionnaire (BPQ). Participants were 54 of the women who completed measurements finishing the course.

Young women present complex symptomatology of stress-related problems. The total burden of symptoms plus the narrated experiences highlight how renegotiations of gender constructions and handling of normative and stressful femininity constrain access to bodily resources. After the stress management course, their measured and narrated experiences show positive changes and release of mental health and stress problems, including a more positive self-image and sense of enhanced confidence in their bodies. Experiences of the course as a safe and explorative space for gendered collective understanding and embodied empowerment indicate the need to develop gender-sensitive interventions. The thesis contributes to youth and gender theoretical perspectives with integration of psychosomatic and psychiatric physiotherapy. A broader awareness of how gender constructions and sociocultural aspects are significant in the understanding of psychosomatic expressions of mental ill health and young femininity is valuable in development of theory and interventions in physiotherapy, as well as into other fields. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet, 2014. 70 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1655
Keyword
mental health, stress-related health, young women, femininity, physiotherapy, psychosomatics, psychiatry, gender theory, phenomenology, corporeality, embodiment, empowerment, intervention
National Category
Physiotherapy Psychiatry Gender Studies
Research subject
Physiotherapy; Psychiatry; genusvetenskap
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88767 (URN)978-91-7601-081-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-06-13, Aulan, Vårdvetarhuset, Umeå, 09:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-05-22 Created: 2014-05-14 Last updated: 2014-06-03Bibliographically approved

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Strömbäck, MariaFormark, BodilWiklund, MariaMalmgren-Olsson, Eva-Britt

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Strömbäck, MariaFormark, BodilWiklund, MariaMalmgren-Olsson, Eva-Britt
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Department of Community Medicine and RehabilitationUmeå Centre for Gender Studies (UCGS)PsychiatryDepartment of historical, philosophical and religious studiesPhysiotherapy
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Young - Nordic Journal of Youth Research
Physiotherapy

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