Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Backstory: The Power of Past Lived Experiences and Communication within Interpersonal Relationships
by Vellinga, Haley C., Ph.D., University of Kansas, 2019, 147; 22618126
Abstract (Summary)

Research on the public’s stigmatizing attitudes toward individuals with alcohol- and substance-use disorders is well-documented, but researchers are increasingly focused on how those public attitudes are constructed and sustained. The current study seized the opportunity to better understand the phenomena of stigmatized backstory communication as it relates to the lived experiences of substance and alcohol users. Specifically, this study addressed the following overarching research question: how are stigmatized individuals’ backstories discursively manifest? Informed by a constructivist grounded theory approach, analyses of 20 interviews with individuals who self-identified with alcohol-use disorder (AUD) and/or substance-use disorder (SUD) revealed that their stigmatized backstory communication was constituted by four major themes: (1) denial, (2) the dark side, (3) oscillation, and (4) discretionary disclosure. These themes reveal both the content and process of backstory as a communication phenomenon. The findings highlight the need to engage substance and alcohol users in the national, master narrative of addiction, and also provide a new theoretical perspective for interpersonal scholars. Several practical applications are also offered to help relational partners, friends, and others, to provide support for substance and alcohol users.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kunkel, Adrianne, Gist-Mackey, Angela
Commitee: Zhang, Yan Bing, Innocenti, Beth, Maynard-Moody, Steven
School: University of Kansas
Department: Communication Studies
School Location: United States -- Kansas
Source: DAI-A 81/8(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Communication
Keywords: Alcohol-use disorder, Interpersonal communication, Shame resilience, Substance-use disorder, Vulnerability
Publication Number: 22618126
ISBN: 9781392519950
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