Valuing Posttraumatic Growth in Psychosis

Individuals who experience psychosis can also experience posttraumatic growth, which can be a central component of the recovery paradigm.

Shannon Peters
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A recent perspectives article, led by Mike Slade, Professor in the School of Health Sciences at the Institute of Mental Health in the UK, explores the question: What is it like to live with psychosis? The article, published in World Psychiatry, explores posttraumatic growth related to psychosis and what can be learned from the Hearing Voices Movement (HVM).

 “The idea of relocating voice hearing from being a meaning­less disease symptom to a personally significant event that can inform and guide one’s recovery journey has resonated with many mental health service users,” write the authors.

Photo Credit: Max Pixel

In a disease paradigm, voice hearing is seen as a negative symptom; however, research suggests that people have mixed experiences with psychosis. A new recovery paradigm supports individuals through an active process of change which may or may not involve professional intervention. The authors discuss that trauma can be a cause and effect of psychosis, and therefore posttraumatic growth models can be helpful frameworks for recovering from psychosis.

“Post-traumatic growth research focuses on the ex­tent to which the struggle to overcome trauma can act as a catalyst for personal growth and development,” explain the authors.

Research has identified many forms of posttraumatic growth after a first episode of psychosis: positive character traits, positive changes to lifestyle, stronger relationships, appreciation of life, appreciation of spirituality, and integration of a psychotic experience into one’s identity.

“Post-traumatic growth can, therefore, be consid­ered as a process that aids recovery by enabling the individual to find meaning from a painful struggle and to recalibrate his/her identity and purpose in life in light of his/her experiences,” write the authors.

The authors highlight the importance of “validation and collective identity offered by peer-support networks” like the HVM. The HVM places more of an emphasis on identity development, meaning-making, and how difficult life experiences can promote personal growth.

The authors describe, “while psychosocial models have been strongly promoted within the HVM, includ­ing the links between trauma and voice hearing, they are not privileged; alternative explanatory frameworks, such as spir­itual or cultural, are seen as equally valid.”

Based on this research, the authors identify three major clinical implications: a) clinical assessment should involve discussions of trauma and its effects, b) posttraumatic growth should be promoted as a way to support recovery, and 3) new clinical models may be needed to support people in developing personally-meaningful understandings of their experience. The authors suggest drawing from the expertise of the HVM and similar organizations to build the recovery paradigm further.

 

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Slade, M., Blackie, L., & Longden, E. (2019). Personal growth in psychosis. World Psychiatry: Official Journal of the World Psychiatric Association18(1), 29–30. doi:10.1002/wps.20585 (Link)

9 COMMENTS

  1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greta_Thunberg

    “….At a TED talk In November 2018, Thunberg said she had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), and selective mutism.[11…..”

    https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/mental-health/schizophrenia/schizophrenia-symptoms.html

    “…A delusion is a belief held with very strong conviction. Even though it’s based on a mistaken, strange or unrealistic view. It may affect the way the person behaves. Delusions can begin suddenly, or may develop over weeks or months…”

  2. The differences between what is considered a “psychedelic experience” and schizophrenia seem to lie in the visual and auditory psychic perception, respectively. This information you can easily find on the internet, so why people who do not have schizophrenia get such a diagnosis? How can you talk about psychosis as if it were the same? And why on the photo is not a cannabis sprout? Since it is known that conversion rate to bipolar or schizophrenia-spectrum disorders for cannabis-induced psychosis is 47%
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29179576

      • I think the answer is obvious – it’s doing to justify the methods used in psychiatry. And someone even came up with idea of simple form of schizophrenia, in which psychosis even does not occur (depression,stress disorder). And people who have never experienced psychosis speak about voices, it’s like a good tone. Doctors strongly support this idea:” Voices is good, voices is our money, voices is our defense from the truth”.
        In certain circles it is fashionable – to say that you heard voices, you can write a book about it, it sounds impressive. But no one remembers how ancient psychiatrists burned witches who use scopolamine in order to get psychotic state. It’s a bad tone, if you say that, they will only smile at you.
        My doctor tells me I think you have a depression, I’ll try to change your diagnosis (schizophrenia). Then he says it’s hard to change to depression, I will try to change to schizotypal disorder, etc How can it be that the diagnosis cannot be changed, protested? There is an IQ test, this should be enough. No, we will keep talking about voices and nothing else.

  3. For psychological reality spiritual growth is only an infantile illusion. For spiritualists psychological reality is equal to theological hell, that is why they can’t see the real meaning of the psyche. And that is why psychology does not exists. Because the real psychology is psychology of the death or phenomenology of the death. And this kind of psychology does not exists, because christianity, religion, spiritualism conquered death/psychological reality. And that is why mental illness is not a part of life, because psyche is not part of life anymore. We have only infantile spiritual assumptions which are equal to theology, and psychiatry is their child.

    So, when one is telling you that you are pathological and mentally ill, that’s mean that he himself is in theological/legal archetype and that he is privileged and you are not.
    Our psyche is something which was destroyed by religion and materialism (apollonian ego). Spiritualists and apollonians are beyond psychological reality.

    We need psychological titans. Because thanks them spiritualists and materialists can exists in their incredibly shallow archetypes. They need roots, and psychological man, like autistics or schizophrenics represents their roots. This is phenomenology and it was destroyed by authoritarianism/materialism religion and so on.

    Psychology, the real psychology, has nothing to do with nowadays humanistic psychology, nowadays psychiatry or spiritualism.

    ———————————————————————————————————-
    Schizophrenics, autistics are destroyed by the state for reasons of ideological negation. Mainly because psychiatry is using theological not psychological assumptions.
    Psychological men should be the most privileged people in the state. But the state of materialists is for biological machines ruled by medicine and rich people not for psychological man.
    ——————————————————————————————————–
    Schizophrenia, depression, autism are the main functions of the psyche. But psychiatry is using theology which means they have send human psyche to hell. And now those states are equal to secular condemnation. And mental health is secular state of grace.
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    James Hillman Re – Visioning psychology.

    • Death is equal to the truth, so psychological man is someone who is the most real kind of man.

      And apollonians and spiritualists are the most fake ones. Their imagination is a form of an opium, thanks that opium they are blind to psychological reality, so they can be as easy as biological machines they create on their own image.

      Titans means more than any kind of religion or materialism. They are the anchors of the human psyche, and psychiatry is a open -air museum for the super blind. Psychological function is psychological function, not material or spiritual one.

  4. I’m thrilled to see HVM noted to be a huge influence in the building of the “recovery paradigm” As they should be! The “experts” have been in charge too long and while their so called research is useful, it’s time for voice hearers to take the lead in securing and identifying ways to navigate these experiences that the experts really seem to know very little about in part due to oppression rather than a willingness to speak of the unknown! Thanks so much for writing this and for speaking of the need for something new!

  5. I actually see my short psychotic episode as a blessing (I had one, for now :), I was delusional, no hallucinations). The psychotic episode made me realize so, so much – about myself, about what makes me happy, what I need in life, what I want, what I don’t want, how to fight for myself, connect to the feelings that lie behind anxiety and scary thoughts… A true blessing!!! Would recommend it to anyone 🙂