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