“Considering there’s supposedly nothing wrong with me, it’s not a life”: Women’s Narratives of Distress, Visiting Herbalists, and Being Well in the 21st Century

Yates, A. 2016. “Considering there’s supposedly nothing wrong with me, it’s not a life”: Women’s Narratives of Distress, Visiting Herbalists, and Being Well in the 21st Century. PhD thesis University of Westminster Life Sciences

Title“Considering there’s supposedly nothing wrong with me, it’s not a life”: Women’s Narratives of Distress, Visiting Herbalists, and Being Well in the 21st Century
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsYates, A.
Abstract

Distress can have a profoundly negative impact on the well-being of women (who are the main receivers of treatment for distress). Distress also poses a huge financial problem for the United Kingdom, the cost of which is predicted to reach over £26bn by 2026. A growing body of research has shown that various medicinal plants have potential to treat different aspects of distress. However, there is little research investigating the patient experience of western herbal practice (WHP), and none investigating women’s experiences of WHP for distress. In response, this longitudinal study utilised interviews with twenty-six women who were visiting herbalists for distress across the south-east of The United Kingdom to elicit their stories of distress, as well as their experiences of WHP. The narratives were analysed from a constructionist standpoint, using inductive thematic analysis.

The participants’ narratives highlighted the profound impact of everyday distress, whilst feelings associated with distress (anxiety, low mood, isolation, shame and guilt) were frequently communicated via the use of metaphors. These negative feelings, often combined with unsuccessful biomedical encounters, frequently led to the women feeling desperate when first visiting a herbalist. The participants’ experiences of WHP showed that an accessible practitioner and good therapeutic relationship combined with flexible herbal treatment, allowed women with diverse stories of distress to overcome feelings of desperation. Ongoing support allowed the women to feel like they had a safety net as they journeyed from a place of distress, back into the wider world. These findings were supported by more unusual negative accounts, which showed how the herbal therapeutic process could be unsuccessful if elements were missing.

This research is of significance as it helps to deepen our understanding of women’s experiences of distress – particularly perceptions of stigma which surround feelings of shame (linked to an inability to cope) and guilt (linked to the perceived impact of distress on others). The research also has relevance for WHP, as it highlights which positive aspects of WHP are of particular importance to women patients who are living with distress.

Keywordswomen, distress, narratives, thematic analysis, metaphors, isolation, shame, guilt, western herbal practice, accessibility, support
Year2016
File
Publication dates
CompletedMay 2016

Related outputs

‘I just went with hope, because I thought I’m doing something’: Women’s Experiences of Western Herbal Practice for Distress
Yates, A., Whitehouse, J., Ridge, Damien T. and Green, J. 2014. ‘I just went with hope, because I thought I’m doing something’: Women’s Experiences of Western Herbal Practice for Distress. College of Medicine Multi-Disciplinary Student Summer School. King's College School of Nursing and Midwifery 05 Sep 2014

How women experience distress, and western herbal practice for the treatment of distress: implications for health care and self-management approaches
Yates, A., Whitehouse, J., Ridge, Damien T. and Green, J. 2014. How women experience distress, and western herbal practice for the treatment of distress: implications for health care and self-management approaches. University of Westminster Post-Graduate Fair. Univeristy of Westminster 29 Apr 2014

How women use and experience western herbal practice for distress: implications for health care and self-management approaches.
Yates, A., Green, J., Whitehouse, J. and Ridge, Damien T. 2013. How women use and experience western herbal practice for distress: implications for health care and self-management approaches. CAMSTRAND 2013. University of Westminster 02 Jul 2013 Elsevier. doi:doi:10.1016/j.eujim.2013.08.019

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