A Phenomenology of ‘Blending in’: Beyond Emotional Regulation


  • Katie Creighton
  • Paul Downes


The phenomenon of devaluing of self for adolescent girls has been highlighted in previous qualitative research in a US cultural context. Carol Gilligan and her colleagues have documented a loss of connection to self and loss of voice. ‘Blending in’ pertains to such a loss of connection and voice. ‘Blending in’ emerges from many aspects of 8 Irish females’ retrospective qualitative phenomenological accounts of their adolescent experiences. These features of blending in include: a dumbing down of intellectual ability in order to fit in, a desire to be hidden in the group to ‘fade into the background’, to not stand out as being different, fear of being labelled by others and fear of challenging others. Blending in gives phenomenological support to Gilligan’s (1990) accounts of silencing and loss of relation to self in adolescent girls, to a rendering of self as other. This phenomenological exploration is resonant also with de Beauvoir’s Second Sex and to a loss of capacity for introversion in Western culture, echoing Jung (1921). Blending in requires firmer addressing in social and emotional education (SEE), especially regarding challenge to self-management as emotional impulse and behaviour regulation. Self-management as blending in risks being a process of loss of voice and alienation of self.