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Future Narratives of Agency and Communion by Psychiatric Patients

Papp, C. (2014) Future Narratives of Agency and Communion by Psychiatric Patients.

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Abstract:Patients today are often reduced to their physical and mental problems, while subjective experiences of illness are not taken into account. However, narratives are one of the most powerful forms to express suffering and can aid the treatment and recovery of a person. Working with narratives can be especially important during transitional developments which psychiatric patients experience, as mental illness requires them to reevaluate their lives and make plans for the future. Reevaluating one's own life in life stories has been investigated in a broad body of research confirming its value to the mental health of the patient. Future narratives, however, have not found much attention in research yet even though the ability of futuring (creating the future) and narratives in general were related to mental health. Therefore, this explorative and correlational study was interested in the association between future narratives and mental health measured by agency and communion. Agency and communion are used to express strivings and goals important for the individual. The sample contained 40 “letters from the future” of psychiatric patients. In the first analysis the future narratives have been analyzed with the coding scheme proposed by McAdams (2001b) to investigate agency and communion related themes only including text passages focusing on the future. Then, the results have been correlated in a second analysis with the total scores of the Mental Health Short Form Continuum to investigate a possible relationship between agency and communion and mental health. The results showed that seven out of eight categories of agency and communion could be found in the sample confirming the first research question. However, no correlations between agency and communion and mental health have been found, disproving the second research question. This study could show that psychiatric patients are able to create positive future narratives and are aware of their own desired goals. Therefore, it is suggested that the ability of imagining positive future outcomes may not be dependent on the mental health status but is something which may represent the opposite of imagining negative outcomes, as psychiatric patients are often involved in the latter. Moreover, it has also been shown that agency and communion can be investigated without taking past passages into account. In conclusion, psychiatric patients ability to imagine positive future outcomes may aid the recovery process.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/65135
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