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Malini completed her Undergraduate degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and her Honours and Masters degrees at the University of Cape Town. 

This page contains her UCT academic theses and a selection of her writings on psychology.

Children’s constructions of gender:
A participatory project

Malini Mohana

Department of Psychology

University of Cape Town

Supervisor: Prof Floretta Boonzaaier

Masters Thesis, 2019


Studies on the construction of gender have largely focussed on adolescents and young adults in South Africa. This leaves a significant gap in understanding the ways in which gender is constructed and negotiated by younger children. This study, therefore, investigated how younger children narrate and experience their gendered lives, and whether these stories resisted or maintained dominant narratives of gender. Twelve participants between the ages of eight and fourteen participated. The research used participatory action research (PAR) methods. Specifically, Photovoice, journaling, collages and drawing were used to represent the stories and narratives that the participants chose to share. The Photovoice component culminated in a community exhibition which showcased the participants’ photos. In addition, the participants took part in focus groups and individual interviews. The focus group transcripts, individual interview transcripts, collages, photographs, drawings and journal entries were analysed using thematic narrative analysis. The study showed that children construct gender based on contradictory messaging, and exercise defiance of normative gendered constructs within the limits of heteronormative gender identity. Four main narrative themes emerged: Negotiating gendered expression; Normalisation of gendered violence; Subjugating female bodies; Narratives of conformity and resistance. Based on the findings, the recommendation was made to use play as both a means of exploration and education in children’s understanding of gender.


Key words: children, gender, Photovoice, gender development

Cessation of Dreaming with Posterior Cortical Lesions: A Clinicoanatomical Study

Malini Mohana

Department of Psychology

University of Cape Town

Supervisor: Mark Solms

Honours Thesis, 2011


A review of the current literature shows that the posterior cortical regions involved in dream generation have not yet been conclusively established. Classical studies in this field have concluded that heteromodal (global) and unimodal (visual-specific) loss of dreaming is attributed to a single over-arching neurological syndrome – Charcot-Wilbrand Syndrome – that is caused by lesions of the posterior cortex. Yet more recent contrasting studies exist that have shown that damage to this area does not necessarily result in dream loss. To contribute to the understanding of the specific regions involved in the generation of dreams, neuroimaging methods were used to assess whether heteromodal (global) loss of dreaming can occur with Posterior Cerebral Artery (PCA) lesions. Five patients with the relevant lesions were analysed and discussed in a multi-case study. Results showed that this study supported the hypothesis that lesion sites will be different between cases with medial-occipito-temporal lesions in which dreaming is preserved or global loss of dreaming occurs. Analysis showed that participants with global loss of dreaming occur with both more posterior bilateral occipital-temporal lesions as well as thalamic damage, whereas dreaming participants showed only unilateral damage to the relevant posterior lesions.

Key words: dreaming; global cessation of dreaming; posterior cerebral artery lesion


Masked Heroes:

Psychosocial Support

Masked Heroes Campaign

June 2020

Malini was the chief psychological content writer for the Masked Heroes Campaign, providing care and support to Covic-19 Front-line Care Workers.

Music & How It Impacts Your Brain, Emotions

October 2018

"Music is a common phenomenon that crosses all borders of nationality, race, and culture. A tool for arousing emotions and feelings, music is far more powerful than language. An increased interest in how the brain processes musical emotion can be attributed to the way in which it is described as a “language of emotion” across cultures. Be it within films, live orchestras, concerts or a simple home stereo, music can be so evocative and overwhelming that it can only be described as standing halfway between thought and phenomenon. "

This article has been cited in:




The Motivated Mind: Where Our Passion & Creativity Comes From

October 2018

" So that feeling of intense creativity, or that feeling of euphoria when engaging in something that is truly meaningful to you — it is real and it is something physiological that happens within your brain. It is one of the least researched aspects of psychology, yet it has the biggest impact on our personal lives. "

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