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    Emptiness, engulfment, and life struggle: an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of chronic depression

    Rhodes, J. and Hackney, S. and Smith, Jonathan A. (2019) Emptiness, engulfment, and life struggle: an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of chronic depression. Journal of Constructivist Psychology 32 (4), pp. 390-407. ISSN 1072-0537.

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    This paper explores the participant’s experience of what it is like to suffer depression, endured for years. Four women and three men, who each reported a minimum of four years’ depression, were interviewed and themes were generated using interpretative phenomenological analysis. A first complex theme is ‘depths of emptiness’ which encompasses: decline of will; disconnection from others; empty future; and numbing of the self. A second theme, ‘episodic despairing engulfment’ describes: agonising feelings and thoughts; a sense and conviction that one’s world and self are being destroyed; a growing belief that there is no escape; and sometimes ideas of suicide. The third theme, ‘the struggle of unending life-problems’ describes: a perceived timeline of struggle and difficulties; and terrible feelings and emotions. Five of the participants engaged in extreme negative thoughts and narrations about themselves, whilst two participants focused specifically on loss and threatening present situations. We conclude that chronic depression involves the experience of emptiness, but also a repeated experience of the destruction of self, connection to the world and deepest hopes. In chronic depression there are negative thoughts and feelings, yet crucially, it also involves alterations in motivation, in particular a process where aims, cares and concerns, that form important parts of the person’s life, are repeatedly thwarted or destroyed. In extreme occurrences, the phenomenological self seems to be passing out of existence.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis, available online at the link above.
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Jonathan Smith
    Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2018 13:05
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:43


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