Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Spring 2022


Maltas, I. C. 2022. Understanding Boundary Turbulence and Privacy Rules from the Receiver’s Perspective in Mental Illness Disclosures. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 2022.


Copyright Ian Maltas 2022.


The present study aims to address a gap in current research focusing on relational outcomes of mental illness disclosures by studying the perspective of people who listen to the disclosures (called “receivers”). This study uses Communication Privacy Management Theory to analyze the process of disclosure, and its main research focus is on motivations for disseminating private information, and how that impacts relationships and privacy rules between co-owners of information. A thematic analysis was conducted to answer this inquiry, and a data conference was held to determine relevant themes in the data. The present study finds that people chose to tell other people about a person’s private mental illness information because they sought social support for themselves or the original information owner (called “disclosers”), or they felt the discloser was at risk for a mental health crisis, among other reasons. Relationships between a receiver and the third party they told showed some positive changes or no changes at all, while relationships between receivers and disclosers became closer, had no changes, or became more distant. Privacy rules primarily changed between receivers and disclosers by making implicit rules become explicit, but changes were also made by establishing some new privacy rules between the receiver and the third party they told.