‘It was like a lightning bolt hitting my world’: Feeling shattered in a first crisis in psychosis

Bögle, Sarah and Boden, Zoë (2019). ‘It was like a lightning bolt hitting my world’: Feeling shattered in a first crisis in psychosis. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 19(2) pp. 377–404.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14780887.2019.1631418


Background: The felt and emotional aspects of psychosis are poorly understood, however, their importance for the aetiology of, and recovery from, psychosis is increasingly accepted. Individuals experiencing psychosis often come into contact with mental health services during a crisis. Currently little is known about the emotional and felt aspects of this experience, yet this could support clinical intervention at this time.
Aims: This research aims to gain an in-depth understanding of the lived, felt experiences of a first crisis in psychosis.
Method: The study took a hermeneutic phenomenological perspective and utilised visual methods. Seven participants participated in idiographic, multi-modal interviews about their experiences.
Results: Participants described their first crisis in psychosis as a shattering experience, entwined with their experiences of interpersonal trauma. In crisis, participants lost basic trust in the world; felt enveloped in a strange, threatening atmosphere, and lacked a sense of belonging.
Conclusions: Attention to the felt aspects of a crisis indicate the existential, intersubjective and traumatic nature of the experience. Psychosocial, family and trauma-focused approaches that take into account the holistic, embodied and contextual nature of psychosis experiences seem best-placed to support treatment and research in this area.

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