Dissertation Title:

Meaning-Making Through Bullying: A Phenomenological Investigation of Persecution and Its Impact


Darren Tempest Burtenshaw

Date, Time & Place:

November 3, 2023 at 1:00 pm


This study utilized Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to explore the meanings made from experiences of childhood and adolescent bullying. Five participants engaged in semi-structured interviews that were transcribed, coded, and analyzed. The analysis yielded 5 primary themes and 6 subthemes. The results indicated that experiences of childhood bullying significantly impacted all participants’ sense of self. Some participants developed trauma symptoms that persisted into adulthood, while others developed greater self-esteem and resilience as a result of being bullied. All participants felt it was important to advocate for marginalized individuals to implement positive societal change. Additionally, this study utilized a depth psychological lens to understand the archetypal dynamics of bullying as well as the relationship between bullying and the Jungian notion of individuation. The results also indicated that clinicians who work with bullied clients should be sensitive to transference and countertransference responses that may arise in therapy, such as consciously or unconsciously bullying their clients and inquiring if their client is feeling bullied in therapy or in other areas of their lives. Finally, clinicians should understand bullying as a unique form of interpersonal injury that elicits both shame and humiliation and significantly impacts the development of the self.


  • Program/Track/Year: Clinical Psychology with Emphasis in Depth Psychology, Track OP, 2016
  • Chair: Dr. James Broderick
  • Reader: Dr. Brenda Murrow
  • External Reader: Dr. August J. Cwik
  • Keywords: Persecution, Bullying, Childhood Bullying, Forgiveness, Scapegoat, Individuation