Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Harold J. Fine


Sixteen adults, eight men and eight women, volunteered for the study or were suggested by acquaintances of the investigator. All were articulate and well-read; most were quite successful in work or at school. Each participant was interviewed over one to hours regarding emotional experiences which he or she had found particularly painful. Fifty-three experiences were described. The interviews were audiotaped and the tapes were transcribed verbatim. Reduced transcripts were generated by eliminating repetition and background information; the original language was maintained. These transcripts were examined at length until general thematic categories emerged and sub-themes could be detailed. The categories were checked for adequacy of range in encompassing all forms of painful experience known to the investigator, and were found to be sufficient. Six categories of painful experience emerged: hurt, frustration, shock, lack, strain, and confusion. The experience of a theme varied, depending upon whether the perceived source of the pain was the self, another person, or the world. An analogy of bodily experience was suggested for each thematic category. Additional analyses were conducted concerning what participants did to cope with their experiences, and what lasting impact, if any, the experiences had had on their lives. The results were discussed in relation to the literature. The variations of phenomenological methods of analysis required for the topic were addressed. Suggestions for further research were included.

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