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Keywords:

  • depression;
  • disgust;
  • emotion;
  • interpretative phenomenological analysis;
  • qualitative;
  • self-disgust

Objective

Self-focused disgust has been implicated in depression and other mental health problems. However, “self-disgust” as a psychological concept has never been properly defined and remains particularly enigmatic. A qualitative methodology was used to obtain an informed understanding of self-disgust.

Method

Nine female participants with clinically relevant depressive symptoms completed semistructured interviews about their understanding and experiences of self-disgust. These were analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.

Results

Four superordinate themes emerged: (a) “The subjective experience of self-disgust” revealed how self-disgust was perceived as a consuming, visceral experience with trait and state components; (b) “Origins of the revolting self” covered antecedent factors and the role of others in the genesis of self-disgust; (c) “Consequences of self-disgust” included the psychological and behavioral results of a disgusting self; and (d) “Associated emotional states” described associations between self-disgust and other feeling states.

Conclusions

The current findings suggest self-disgust is a consuming negative psychological phenomenon, associated with depression, problems with eating, physical appearance, interpersonal relationships, and self-persecution. Implications for clinical practice and future research on the topic are discussed.