The impact of schizophrenia on patients and key relatives : a social cognitive approach
The impact of severe mental illness on the individual and their family can be substantial. In addition to living with the vagaries of a condition that can be of unpredictable duration and severity, individuals and their families may also have to live with public perceptions that can be devaluing, discriminatory or indeed hostile. The purpose of this thesis is to examine the impact of severe mental illness on the individual and their key relatives using a social cognitive perspective. Chapter 1 provides a review of the mechanisms and consequences of stigma and discrimination in severe mental illness, and explores ideas for intervention that are predicated upon empirical research findings. Chapter 2 examines the pattern of desynchrony between lay representations of severe mental illness held by individuals, their carers, and a sample of the general public. It also highlights the association between aspects of perceived stigma and divergent patient-parent representations of schizophrenia. Chapter 3 adopts a self-regulation theory approach to distress in the relatives of people diagnosed with schizophrenia and concludes that aspects of the self-regulation approach, (perceptions of psychosis, coping, and primary appraisals) have some utility as a framework to understand distress in the carers of people diagnosed with schizophrenia. Finally, chapter 4 reflects on the research process and discusses the development and course of the research. It also provides some further reflections by participants on the experience of severe mental illness.