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A Sense of Belonging: Childhood Abuse, Intolerance of Uncertainty and Bipolar Disorder

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date9/11/2022
Number of pages206
Awarding Institution
Award date9/11/2022
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis is comprised of a systematic literature review, an empirical research project and a critical appraisal.
The systematic literature review offers a narrative synthesis of the published evidence regarding a relationship between childhood abuse and one’s sense of belonging/social connectedness, in the context of Joiner’s Interpersonal Psychological Theory of Suicide. A total of 13 papers were included in this review and findings suggest that experiencing childhood abuse and a reduced sense of belonging/social connectedness are associated. The literature review also offers an evaluation of the current measures used in childhood abuse/belongingness studies. As a result, recommendations are made as to the feasibility, acceptability and reliability of measures used in future research.
The empirical research paper explores the relationship between intolerance of uncertainty and thwarted belongingness in individuals who self-report a BD diagnosis. Data was collected from 169 participants using an online survey in regards to demographic and clinical information, current depressive/(hypo)manic symptoms, belonging, intolerance of uncertainty and stigma. Using a linear regression analysis, findings showed that intolerance of uncertainty (alongside experiencing a current mood episode) was significantly associated with thwarted belongingness. Considering these findings, it is possible that existing, evidence-based interventions for intolerance of uncertainty can be used to tackle feelings of thwarted belongingness in clinical practice.
The critical appraisal explores the findings of the previous two sections in the context of attachment and offers a critique of the current use of psychiatric diagnosis to lead clinical and research developments.