Psychosis and transformation: A phenomenological inquiry

  • Gary Nixon
  • Brad Hagen
  • Tracey Peters


Conventional views towards psychosis typically portray psychosis as an illness of the brain with a generally poor prognosis, even if treated with antipsychotics. However, there is a growing body of literature which presents an alternative view of psychosis, whereby people are not only able to recover from psychosis, but can also experience transformative and/or spiritual growth through psychosis. To learn more about the transformative potential of psychotic experiences, a phenomenological approach was used to research the experiences of six people who self-identified as having benefited from psychosis in a spiritual and/or transformative manner. Keys themes emerging from interviews with these six individuals included in the pre-psychosis phase “childhood foreshadowing” and “negative childhood events,” and in the psychosis phase, “sudden psychosis,” “psychic/intuitiveness and unusual visual experiences,” “comprised day-to-day functioning,” “experiences of dying,” and “communication with god.” Four themes made up the transformation of psychosis phase including “detachment and mindfulness,” “accepting the dissolution of time into now,” “embracing a spiritual pathway,”“ and ”re-alignment of career path.“ Overall, the results suggest that at least for some individuals, the experience of psychosis can be an important catalyst for spiritual and personally transformative growth.


Psychosis Phenomenology Recovery Transformation Qualitative 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada

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