Experiencing Psychosis: Personal and Professional Perspectives

Experiencing Psychosis: Personal and Professional Perspectives

Experiencing Psychosis: Personal and Professional Perspectives

Experiencing Psychosis: Personal and Professional Perspectives


Extensive scientific research has been conducted into understanding and learning more about psychotic experiences. However, in existing research the voice of subjective experience is rarely taken into consideration. In this book, first-person accounts are brought centre-stage and examined alongside current research to suggest how personal experience can contribute to professional understanding, and therefore the treatment, of psychosis.

Experiencing Psychosisbrings together a range of contributors who have either experienced psychosis on a personal level or conducted research into the topic. Chapters are presented in pairs providing information from both personal and research perspectives on specific aspects of psychosis including: hearing voices, delusional beliefs, and trauma as well as cultural, existential and spiritual issues. Experts from the field recognise that first and foremost psychosis is a human experience and that those who suffer from psychotic episodes must have some involvement in any genuine attempts to make sense of the experience.

This book will be essential reading for all mental health professionals involved with psychosis. The accessible style and compelling personal histories will also attract service users and their families.


Working as a clinical psychologist in the area of early intervention for psychosis, I find the stories clients share with me to be profoundly moving and enlightening: it is through these stories that I have learnt most about the experience of psychosis. the notion that those who have first-hand lived experience of psychosis might be able to contribute to our understandings and approaches to these experiences seems to me to be so obviously true that it hardly merits stating. Yet, if we look at the literature on psychosis, it becomes clear that this notion does need to be stated. the voice of subjective experience has been sadly neglected. I believe that knowledge comes in many forms and that no single approach to knowledge and no single group of people have privileged claims to knowledge. the challenge we face is in integrating knowledge that comes from various sources or perspectives. the challenge in the area of psychosis is in bridging the gap that currently exists between the first-person perspective and other approaches to understanding. This book, by including both first-person and research perspectives, hopefully goes some way towards reducing this gap. I feel very fortunate to be living and working in New Zealand and to have colleagues like Patte Randal, Debra Lampshire and John Read, who share my commitment to the importance of subjective experience and my enthusiasm for this project, and each of whom promotes a way of thinking about and relating to mental health issues such as psychosis which sustains me in my work as a psychologist.

Jim Geekie

Jim asked me if I would be interested in co-editing and writing a chapter for a new book he was thinking about, exploring subjectivity. I responded with an immediate ‘Yes!’ We had previously co-authored the final chapter of a book and this had been a very enjoyable project. I had detailed aspects of my own subjective experience of episodes of psychosis, and the emergence of a spiritual understanding that became instrumental in my recovery. I had learned the value of talking about subjective experiences in this way from Debra. It had been my privilege to work alongside Debra in a little team which she led, developing an innovative way of helping people understand their voice-hearing experiences, and their distressing thoughts and beliefs. I had been encouraged by John’s conviction . . .

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