Experiencing Psychosis: Personal and Professional Perspectives, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Experiencing Psychosis

Personal and Professional Perspectives, 1st Edition

Edited by Jim Geekie, Patte Randal, Debra Lampshire, John Read


248 pages

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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 Psychosis brings 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.


"This is one of the most exciting, novel and important books I have read in a long time. It is ground-breaking and unique through the way it combines first-person accounts of, and reflections on psychosis with professional accounts, theory and research." - Anne Cooke, Department of Applied Psychology, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK

"Congratulations to Jim Geekie and all the contributors to this very important and powerful document about understanding and treating people with serious mental illness. This book reminds us that we must recognize the personhood of every patient and try to understand the personal meaning of experiences such as hallucinations and delusions." - Dr Paul Fink, Past President, American Psychiatric Association

"Experiencing Psychosis is a real eye opener when it comes to understanding psychosis from the personal perspectives of those who experience it. The book combines personal narratives, professional accounts, theory and research in a clear and coherent way. It takes the reader on a journey through the extraordinary human experience of what the medical model calls psychosis, and helps us to appreciate that in order to understand the symptoms of mental illness, it is not enough to just describe them but it is crucial to consider the personal, social, cultural and spiritual contexts in which the psychotic experiences take place." - Maria Tiina Lindholm-Ventola, Private Practice, Winter 2011

"This was an enlightening and inspiring read. I finished the book thinking that not enough emphasis is placed on the lived experience within our understanding of psychosis. This would be a useful introduction text for those wanting to develop an understanding of the psychotic experience regardless of professional modality. The perspectives of this would be of particular relevance to mental health professionals in training as well as those who have lost sight of the individual's voice in their practice." - Ciaran O'Driscoll, Journal of Mental Health (Vol. 22, No. 3)

"Experiencing Psychosis challenges… attitudes by citing a wealth of overlooked by compelling evidence. It allows patients who have experienced psychosis to speak for themselves, educating us about the subjective realities of their symptoms and their beliefs about the causes of these, and spelling out what has been helpful in their recovery and what has not been. These patients constitute roughly half the book's authors; the other half are professionals who write companion research chapters." -Richard Waugaman, Psychoanalytic Quarterly (2013)

Table of Contents

Geekie, Randal, Read, Lampshire, Introduction. Roe, Lysaker, The Importance of Personal Narratives in Recovery from Psychosis. Dillon, Recovery from 'Psychosis'. Davidson, Hurrying Slowly: Initial Steps Towards Recovering from Psychosis. Bidois, A Cultural and Personal Perspective of Psychosis. Lambrecht, Taitimu, Exploring Culture, Subjectivity and Psychosis. Randal, Subjective Experience of Spirituality and Psychosis. Lukoff, Spirituality and Psychosis. Lauveng, When You Have Lost Yourself, There's Really Not Very Much Left. Geekie, The Uncertainty of Being: Existential Aspects of the Experience of Psychosis. Byrne, At Risk of Developing Psychosis: A Personal Account. Hardy, At Risk of Developing Psychosis: The Research Perspective. Boevink, Corstens, My Body Remembers; I Refused: Childhood Trauma, Dissociation and Psychosis. Read, Research into the Subjective Experience of, and Beliefs about, the Link Between Psychosis and Bad Things Happening. Lampshire, The Sounds of a Wounded World. Beavan, Myriad Voices Myriad Meanings: Review of the Research into the Subjective Experience of Hearing Voices. Wraphire, Deluded Loner. Campbell, Morrison, Subjective Experiences of Delusions and Paranoia. Longden, Negative Symptoms: More, Not Less. Lievre, Schweitzer, The Subjective Experience of Negative Symptoms: Characteristics of Emotional Withdrawal. Neugeboren, I Called You My Brother. Read, Magliano, The Subjective Experience and Beliefs of Relatives of People who Experience Psychosis. Randal, Geekie, Read, Lampshire, Concluding Comments.

About the Editors

Jim Geekie is a Clinical Psychologist working in the Early Psychosis Service at St Luke's Community Mental Health Centre, Auckland District Health Board (ADHB), New Zealand.

Patte Randal works as a Medical Officer in Rehabilitation Psychiatry at Buchanan Rehabilitation Centre, ADHB, New Zealand.

Debra Lampshire works for Auckland University and ADHB, New Zealand, leading the development in service-user involvement.

John Read is Professor in Clinical Psychology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and is Editor of the journal Psychosis: Psychological, Social and Integrative Approaches.

About the Series

The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis Book Series

ISPS (The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis) has a history stretching back more than five decades, during which it has witnessed the relentless pursuit of biological explanations for psychosis. This tide has been turning in recent years and there is growing international interest in a range of psychological, social and cultural factors that have considerable explanatory traction and distinct therapeutic possibilities. Governments, professional groups, people with personal experience of psychosis and family members are increasingly exploring interventions that involve more talking and listening. Many now regard practitioners skilled in psychological therapies as an essential component of the care of people with psychosis.

A global society active in at least twenty countries, ISPS is composed of a diverse range of individuals, networks and institutional members. Key to its ethos is that individuals with personal experience of psychosis, and their families and friends, are fully involved alongside practitioners and researchers, and that all benefit from this collaboration.

ISPS’s core aim is to promote psychological and social approaches to understanding and treating psychosis. Recognising the humanitarian and therapeutic potential of these perspectives, ISPS embraces a wide spectrum of therapeutic approaches from psychodynamic, systemic, cognitive, and arts therapies, to need-adapted and dialogical approaches, family and group therapies and residential therapeutic communities. A further ambition is to draw together diverse viewpoints on psychosis and to foster discussion and debate across the biomedical and social sciences, including establishing meaningful dialogue with practitioners and researchers who are more familiar with biological-based approaches. Such discussion is now increasingly supported by empirical evidence of the interaction of genes and biology with the emotional and social environment especially in the fields of trauma, attachment, social relationships and therapy.

Ways in which ISPS pursues its aims include international and national conferences, real and virtual networks, and publication of the journal Psychosis. The book series is intended to complement these activities by providing a resource for those wanting to consider aspects of psychosis in detail. It now also includes a monograph strand primarily targeted at academics. Central to both strands is the combination of rigorous, in-depth intellectual content and accessibility to a wide range of readers. We aim for the series to be a resource for mental health professionals of all disciplines, for those developing and implementing policy, for academics in the social and clinical sciences, and for people whose interest in psychosis stems from personal or family experience. We hope that the book series will help challenge excessively biological ways of conceptualising and treating psychosis through the dissemination of existing knowledge and ideas and by fostering new interdisciplinary dialogues and perspectives.

For more information about ISPS, email [email protected] or visit our website, www.isps.org.  

For more information about the journal Psychosis visit  www.isps.org/index.php/publications/journal.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychopathology / Schizophrenia
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health