Get access

I Hear, I Listen and I Care: A Qualitative Investigation into the Function of a Self-Harm Message Board


Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY; E-mail:


This paper reports on the findings of a qualitative inquiry into the interactions on a nonprofessional self-harm message board. Individuals using the message board were very positive about the message board and appeared to feel that their needs for support, venting, and validation were being met. However, we found that negative harmful behaviors mentioned in messages posted on the board were either not acknowledged, or were legitimized and normalized by those who responded to the messages. We suggest that this process of minimizing the seriousness and/or normalizing the behaviors may actually be encouraging the maintenance of such behaviors and therefore conclude that caution should be exercised when using nonprofessional self-harm message boards.