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Title: Rethinking mental illness through a lens of friendship : a practical theological reflection on mental illness through an autoethnographic account of friendship with a person suffering from severe mental illness
Author: Oh, Priscilla Sun Kyung
ISNI:       0000 0004 5360 481X
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2014
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Proceeding from an autoethnographic representation of the friendship, what I sketch out in this thesis is a ceaseless attempt to testify my involvement in the process of knowing the person and the prolonged course of observing a severe mental illness and to illuminate the peculiarities of such a relational circumstance with the inevitable difficulties in honouring our commitment. The central purpose of this study is to creatively provide a theological space to understand the experience of mental illness and to show how the veracity of past memories and the on-going construction of friendship boundaries reflect the shifting combination of reason and emotion that connects kin over the evolving story of a person's mental illness. I offer fresh insights which draw out the need to understand mental illness as much more than mere suffering and mental health as much more than the absence of symptoms. In reflecting theologically on the peculiarity of the friendship, I make use of Martin Buber's I-Thou and I-It mode of relationships in which my interpretation of a beloved friend's mental illness revolves around focusing on the person rather than the description of the illness. In dealing with the emotional challenges in relation to people with mental illness, I suggest that the Christian practice of lament offers a space to theologically articulate the deep sense of grief, abandonment, and emptiness in the context of mental illness. I also suggest the Christian practice of hospitality as an important resource for the constructive Christian response to mental illness and reflect the fundamental recognition of home in connection to hospitality. Subsequently, I offer a model of friendship which inevitably exposes the limits of commitment and sympathy while affirming the extraordinary power of love which seeks solidarity and sustains the relationship with a person with a severe mental illness.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Mental illness ; Friendship