Subjective Experience of Symptoms in Schizophrenia

Cynthia Baker


A qualitative study using the interpretive interactionism method was conducted to investigate the inner experiences of individuals with schizophrenia that surround, mobilize, and shape their awareness of, and responses to, the symptoms of their illness. Biographical data were collected from a purposive sample of 15 respondents suffering from this illness. Their narratives indicated that psychic pain dominated their lives; this theme was intertwined with the themes of lack of control, failure, and loss. Psychic pain was the key factor in informants' developing recognition of fluctuations in the course of their illness. The findings suggest that nurses may facilitate symptom monitoring in individuals who have schizophrenia, by attending to the emotional distress permeating every facet of their existence and by helping them look inward, to heighten their consciousness of specific components of psychic distress.

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