Personal recovery in personality disorder - seeking to understand experiences in community and forensic settings

Student thesis: Phd


Supporting an individual with experience of mental disorder in their personal recovery is now a stated goal for most mental health services. The meaning of 'recovery', as well as its distinction from traditional concepts of 'clinical recovery' or 'cure', remains unclear however. In the following thesis a variety of methodological approaches are used to explore the lived experience of those receiving a personality disorder diagnosis and accessing care in a variety of institutional settings. Specifically, systematic review and meta-synthesis are used by way of literature sensitisation. Individual interviews and focus groups are used to capture the experience of service users and clinical professionals respectively. Thematic analysis is used to explore findings and to identify overarching themes that encapsulate the essence of the recovery process. Emergent themes suggest that the process of recovery may be considered a form of 'identity work', wherein the experience of mental distress is adopted into the individual's understanding of themselves as a moral agent functioning within various social networks. Findings from the individual interviews, together with the reflections of clinical staff, indicate the particularity of this work in the context of personality disorder and forensic institutions - with diagnostic stigma especially seen as impacting on the process. A model of personal recovery is proposed in light of the findings from the thesis and this is situated in terms of the wider clinical literature. This model highlights the development of personal recovery as a response to varying forms of trauma, and the incorporation of such work into central understandings of personal identity. Findings from the thesis are used to develop proposals as to the manner in which future research could be conducted to allow the adoption of recovery oriented care in day-to-day mental health clinical practice.
Date of Award31 Dec 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJennifer Shaw (Supervisor), Ming Wan (Supervisor) & Michael Doyle (Supervisor)

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