Understanding Experience and Constructing Identity in 'Spiritually Transformative' Accounts of 'Psychosis'

Prof Doc Thesis

Peddie, James 2014. Understanding Experience and Constructing Identity in 'Spiritually Transformative' Accounts of 'Psychosis'. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.4607
AuthorsPeddie, James
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Psychosis and Schizophrenia have been associated with severe disruptions in selfnarrative,
which may be driven by a medical model which denies meaning to psychoticlike-
experience (PLE), and negatively positions 'patients'. Alternative understandings of
PLE exist cross/sub-culturally, and have been associated with good outcomes.
Furthermore, a marginalised but significant body of theory proposes that PLE may
represent an adaptive problem-solving or paradigm-shifting mechanism, reconfiguring
redundant conceptualisations of 'reality'.
Drawing on Positioning theory, and the critical work of Michel Foucault, to inform a
Critical Narrative Analysis, this thesis interrogates the potentially transformative impact of
understanding out-of-the-ordinary experiences, such as seeing visions, or hearing voices,
from a 'spiritual' or 'mystical' rather than 'medical' perspective. Taking a multiple casestudy
approach, three publicly available self-narratives of 'spiritually' transformative
'Psychosis' are explored. The nature of the 'self' produced, narratives drawn upon and
implications for the medical model are considered.
All three accounts draw on an idiosyncratic 'bricolage' of narrative resources to integrate
their PLE into richly developed self-narratives. PLE is understood as profoundly
meaningful, external to the self and universally accessible. The experience drives a
reconstruction of 'reality' which repositions the narrator, and allows them to transcend
unwanted aspects of their 'prior-selves'. A dichotomy is introduced between enlightened
and unenlightened minds, which necessitates restricted communication, and tactical
From a Foucauldian perspective (2006a) the accounts are seen to function in a fashion
comparable to the 'mystical/spiritual' 'counter-conduct'; troubling the dimorphism between
'patient' and 'professional'; reversing the medical 'gaze'; and drawing on the counter-readings
of 'spiritual' sub-communities to reverse the hierarchy of 'truth' and determine
their own 'reality'.
Implications for further research, and professional practice, are discussed in light of the

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.4607
Publication dates
PrintMay 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited03 Nov 2015
Publisher's version
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