Comparing memories of unusual or anomalous experiences viewed as psychotic experiences with those memories deemed to be culturally acceptable

Prof Doc Thesis

Petronić, G 2005. Comparing memories of unusual or anomalous experiences viewed as psychotic experiences with those memories deemed to be culturally acceptable. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsPetronić, G
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Science, parapsychology, religion and spirituality provide theoretical frameworks that
are widespread in our society and culture. People tend to use these frameworks to
explain their experiences. However, the theoretical framework used to explain an
experience might determine whether the experience would be regarded as 'normal' or
as a sign of psychopathology.
Recently it has been argued that symptoms of mental illnesses should be viewed on a
continuum with normal experiences. Studies indicate that hallucinations and
uncommon beliefs are widespread in the general population. Also, the validity of
psychiatric diagnostic tools and categories have recently been challenged by new
studies which indicate an overlap between mental illness categories and an inability to
distinguish between psychopathology and normality.
This study examines the similarities and differences between unusual perceptual
experiences seen as a product of a psychotic illness and those regarded as anomalous
experiences. The study also examines cultural influences on people's understanding
of their experiences. The 'Memory Work' qualitative research method was used for
collecting and analysing the data. This method is unique in that it does not make a
distinction between researchers and participants. Instead the researchers themselves
produce data, which the group men collectively analyse.
The results indicated that unusual perceptual experiences explained by the coresearchers
who received a psychiatric diagnosis (in the clinical group) and those who
did not (in the non-clinical group) are both similar and different. The similarities
could be seen as being that the people in both groups had difficulties in understanding
the experiences and questioned their sanity; they emerged in similar contexts and
ways of managing the experiences were similar to a certain extent. The differences
could be seen as being that the experiences regarded as a product of psychotic illness
were perceived as more intense in terms of frequency and duration and surprisingly
had more pleasant effects on the co-researchers in the clinical group than the
experiences in the non-clinical group. The findings are discussed in relation to
existing literature on this topic.

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Deposited02 Jul 2014
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