Mania, meaning and gender: an exploratory study to investigate women's experiences of mania

Prof Doc Thesis

Paveley, Fiona 2006. Mania, meaning and gender: an exploratory study to investigate women's experiences of mania. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsPaveley, Fiona
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Research suggests that there may be gender differences in the form and course of
bipolar disorder (manic depression). Much research exists that explores the
relationship between gender and depression in women. The aim of this study,
therefore, was to explore women's subjective experiences of mania and to examine
how conceptions of gender may have shaped those experiences. This study also
considered the extent to which women's experiences of mania (and depression)
accord with the concept of bipolar disorder. This study was concerned with the
meaning of the women's experiences within the context of their social, economic and
relational lives. Semi-structured interviews were used to explore seven women's
accounts of mania (and depression) which were then analysed from a Critical Realist
standpoint using a qualitative approach, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.
Despite moments of creativity and apparent empowerment, mania emerged as a
complex and often frightening phenomenon. Six themes were identified. These were
concerned with: autonomy and loss of control; maintaining a coherent sense of self;
'paranoia'; a need for explanations; loss; and contradictory responses to depression. It
was notable, however, that no theme was identified which was explicitly concerned
with gender. Traditional categorical diagnostic approaches failed adequately to
describe the women's actual experiences. It is suggested their accounts of mania (and
depression) might be better accommodated within a psychological understanding of
mental distress that considers the meaning and function of unusual experiences and
beliefs. The clinical and theoretical implications of these findings are discussed and
further areas for research outlined.

Publication dates
PrintFeb 2006
Publication process dates
Deposited15 Jul 2014
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