Sarah Allen is a 2014 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee

  • Victor Pantesco, Ed..D., Committee Chair
  • Amanda Hitchings, Ps7.D. Committee Member
  • Barbara Belcher-Timme, Psy.D. Committee Member


narrative, life story interviews, gender, social exclusion, peer relationships, elementary school, social rejection, social aggression, bullying, women

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Social aggression among children in schools is an old problem that has received some attention in recent years. The long-term influence of early experiences of social exclusion for women is underrepresented in the literature. In this qualitative study, a narrative, autobiographical approach is used to explore the life narratives of five adult women who experienced peer rejection, social exclusion, and/or harassment during elementary school. Literature related to social exclusion and narrative identity is reviewed. Autobiographical narratives were collected using life history interviews with a narrative methodology. The women interviewed
self-identified as having experienced social exclusion in childhood and provided accounts of their life stories through in-person interviews. The process of interpretation in this inquiry rests on a narrative, social constructivist foundation that guides and informs methodology and analysis. When adults tell of their childhood experiences, emergent events and themes are influenced by how and with whom the stories are told. Interpretations of past experiences exist in light of their subsequent experiences. The story of the investigator is relevant to provide context and transparency to the interpretive process. Among these five diverse stories, wanting to belong, internal repercussions of victimization such as shame, adults failing to protect, and identifying and utilizing internal resources for progress emerge as common themes among the narratives. Findings suggest that these painful early experiences contribute to long-term vulnerability for the reemergence of low self-esteem during sufficiently stressful episodes in life. These results are discussed.