Andri Yennari

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2011


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Clinical Psychology


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Russell Walsh

Committee Member

Jessie Goicoechea

Committee Member

Will Adams


Hermeneutic, Labeling, Phenomenology, Schizophrenia


This study investigated the experience of living with schizophrenia through seven participants' accounts of the way they have been perceived and treated by others, as well as the way they viewed themselves after having been identified with the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Participants were recruited through psychologists at the mental health facility where they received treatment and were interviewed by the researcher in that facility.

To analyze the data of this study, an empirical phenomenological method was used to explicate the meaning of schizophrenia as it was experienced and lived by participants. A hermeneutic component was included to interpret the data and explore implicit dimensions of the experiences described by participants. The researcher employed reflexive procedures of acknowledging a priori assumptions, expectations, and presuppositions forming the frame of reference from which the phenomenon was understood.

The aim of this empirical qualitative research was to explicate the "lived meaning" of the diagnosis of schizophrenia for particular individuals and then across the individuals. Themes were grouped under two clusters to reflect the complexity of participants' experience. One cluster pertained to the issue of living with the diagnostic label of schizophrenia. Integral themes included the impact of diagnostic labeling on identity, concealment of the label in interactions with others, and facing ignorance and stigma. The other cluster was specific to schizophrenia as a disorder with which participants struggled. This cluster included themes pertaining to the frightening onset of the illness, the role of spirituality in coping with the illness, tension between trust and mistrust in interpersonal relationships, medication side effects and non-compliance, and perceptions of unhelpful and beneficial aspects of treatment.

Findings of this study have important implications for research, clinical practice and public policy. Findings indicate the positive impact of spirituality on coping with schizophrenia, treatment adherence and satisfaction, and self-efficacy. Furthermore, participant accounts demonstrated that the illness of schizophrenia has personal and interpersonal consequences beyond those resulting from diagnostic labeling. Findings also highlight the need for education and research to combat ignorance and stigma regarding schizophrenia. Moreover, negative and positive treatment experiences provide feedback on potentially effective and ineffective aspects of treatment.