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“Us vs Them” inpatients or fellow inmates? An autoethnographic exploration

Goodwin, A.J. (2017). “Us vs Them” inpatients or fellow inmates? An autoethnographic exploration. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)

Abstract

Research shows that mental health professionals hold stigmatizing and negative attitudes towards people with mental health problems. Professionals can engage in “othering” whereby they create distance between themselves and the “different” patient, diminishing discomfort. There are significant mental health difficulties amongst professionals, but there is insufficient research exploring clinicians with lived experience, including how this impacts and/or enhances clinical practice. How professionals manage occupying multiple positions, such as professional and patient, has not been sufficiently explored, perhaps owing to the stigma in the profession. I employed Autoethnography, a method and methodology (Campbell, 2016), to critique, contribute to and extend existing research and theory. I seek an increase of insight, facilitation of social consciousness, and societal change (Adams, Linn & Ellis, 2015, p. 33). This research is a direct response to the persistent gap in literature when it comes to firsthand accounts of inpatient psychiatric treatment (Short, Turner & Grant, 2013, p. 41) and a call for more writing from professionals working in mental health with lived experience. I used my insider knowledge of a cultural phenomenon (life of a wounded healer in training) and a life-altering experience (being admitted to a psychiatric institution) to critique cultural norms and practices amongst mental health professionals, including myself. The data collection and analysis was iterative and resulted in the production of an evocative narrative. I provide the reader with a theoretical chapter that discusses salient themes that arose during this process and link these themes with parts of the narrative. I demonstrate that autoethnography can be a particularly valuable method for counselling psychologists and conclude with a number of implications and suggestions for practice stemming from my research. By using myself as both the researcher and the researched, while highlighting my hybrid identity of patient and professional, I blur the boundaries that could otherwise perpetuate othering.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences
School of Arts & Social Sciences > Psychology
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/20386
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