Social Theory & Health

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 105–123 | Cite as

Freedom and pressure in self-disclosure

  • Venke Frederike JohansenEmail author
  • Therese Marie Andrews
  • Haldis Haukanes
  • Ulla-Britt Lilleaas
Original Article


Today there is great openness about breast cancer, and the current ideology is that this is considered positive. This article draws upon sociological and philosophical theories to explore psychological practices. We ask: do women experience as much freedom to not talk about their illness as they do to talk about it? Do they experience that not being open is as favourably valued as openness is? The article is based on an ethnographic study in which women have given detailed accounts of how, to whom and in which situations they have been open or closed about their illness. It shows that breast cancer sufferers do not always experience a real choice between withholding and sharing information. As such, openness cannot be considered as the best practice for all breast cancer sufferers.


breast cancer self-disclosure social sharing positive freedom negative freedom 



We are thankful to the women who took part in this study.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Venke Frederike Johansen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Therese Marie Andrews
    • 2
  • Haldis Haukanes
    • 2
  • Ulla-Britt Lilleaas
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AgderKristiansandNorway
  2. 2.University of BergenBergenNorway

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