"Who am I now?" : the lived experiences and identity construction of individuals following bariatric surgery : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Psychology at Massey University, Wellington Campus, New Zealand

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Obesity is a complex health condition that is contributing to declining physical and mental health worldwide. As obesity rises, weight loss interventions are being developed. Bariatric surgery is considered the gold standard regarding weight loss intervention. This study investigated the lived experiences of participants following bariatric surgery, with an emphasis on the effects bariatric surgery has on identity construction. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 participants. Interview responses were analyzed using narrative analysis. The analysis uncovered 5 major themes of the lived experience of bariatric surgery; the reasons to choose bariatric surgery, the benefits of the procedure, the challenges that occurred following surgery, stigmatization of bariatric surgery, and the necessity of support throughout the bariatric surgery journey. The analysis also showed the effect bariatric surgery can have on identity, through a persistent ‘obese view of self ‘and body perception difficulties, leading to difficulty in adapting to a ‘new’ body. In conclusion bariatric surgery is an advantageous procedure, but difficulties adapting from an ‘obese’ identity are apparent. Psychotherapeutic treatment is strongly recommended throughout the bariatric surgery journey.