Whilst it is very rare for us on the podcast to look at psychosis for some reason, and I truly don’t know why, I think it is always great to look at who is the most likely to recover from different mental health conditions. This not only gives us hope as current or future psychologists, but it can teach us valuable lessons that we can hopefully apply to other mental conditions. Let’s dive into this great topic.
Today’s clinical psychology podcast episode is sponsored by Abnormal Psychology: The Causes and Treatments For Depression, Anxiety And More. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.
Can You Recover From Psychosis?
Unlike a wide range of other mental health conditions, there aren’t really a lot of public models of successful people living with a psychotic disorder. There are thankfully plenty of successful people with autism, ADHD and dyslexia. But none that I can think of that have a psychotic disorder.
Therefore, there is a cultural assumption in our society that once a person develops psychosis, there is absolutely no chance of recovery whatsoever and they are doomed. Granted that is a little overdramatic on my part, but it is how society sees psychosis.
Additionally, this is reinforced even further in our culture by the media portrays of people with schizophrenia being negative, and definitely not helpful in normalising the idea that a person can thrive with a psychotic condition. Despite many of these people living and working normally in the rest of the world.
As a result, false recovery models aren’t very true because there are actually a lot of people who thrive with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder. Including a rather public advocate by the name of Dr Elyn Saks, who is a professor and memoirist at the University of California, and people like John Nash.
And in case you’re like me, that name isn’t ring a bell at first and that’s okay, but he was the mathematician who’s story was told in the book as well as film, A Beautiful Mind. It’s even worse that’s I’ve seen the film about twice years ago.
Anyway, there are a lot more people that we think that thrive with a psychotic condition and there is even an entire database of people who are thriving with a schizophrenia disorder at the Curesz Foundation website. That’s a charity that aims to help people with schizophrenia spectrum disorder recover.
What Predicts Recovery From Psychosis?
Personally whilst all this new information is great because it is amazing to know that so many people are thriving with a condition that people see as a lost cause. I would rather like to know what actually predicts their recovery, and most importantly what makes these people diffierent to the ones that do not sadly thrive.
Thankfully, Peralta et al. (2022) can help us answer that because the study investigated 243 participtans over a 20 year period that exhibited a condition with psychotic symptoms. Including bipolar disorder with psychotic symptoms, schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia.
To test the idea of recovery, they decided to look at three definitions, personal recovery. This referred to a person’s ability to forge their own identity, have a sense of purpose, find meaning in their life and take responsible for their condition and recovery.
The second definition was about functional recovery, which referred to a person’s quality to participant in daily life without their condition disturbing it. As well as the final definition was about symptomatic recovery, referring the reduction of their symptoms overall.
The results of the study found that the following definitions recovered:
· 51.9% of people recovered according to the personal recovery definition.
· 52.7% of people recovered according to functional recovery.
· 51.9% of people experienced symptomatic recovery
Therefore, the majority of participants clearly recovery in all three areas and 74.2% of participants showed recovery in at least 1 area of recovery with ultimately 32.5% participants displaying active recovery in all three definition.
This is consistent with previous research findings.
Therefore, now we know a lot of people are recover from psychosis, what exactly are the predictors of recovery?
The most significant predictors that determined chances of recovery across all three definitions were:
· Family history of psychotic disorders.
· Parental socioeconomic status
· Development delay at age 3
· Completion of high or secondary school education
However, if a person isn’t born into a wealthy family without relatives with psychosis or no trauma, it doesn’t mean that the person is doomed like many people would see it.
Instead the very nature of psychosis makes it difficult to find the major predictors of recovery, and psychosis could appear differently within each person. Within psychology you’ll probably hear psychosis being referred to as a condition of heterogenous make-up. And in case, like me, you have no idea what that means, a heterogeneous make-up means there are a lot of reasons why people develop psychosis and don’t recover.
As a result, these the predictors above, only predict about 27.5%, 34.3% and 33.7% of people’s recoveries in respect to each recovery model/ definition the study looked at.
Clinical Psychology Conclusion:
To wrap up this episode, I wanted to mention something that has wider lessons for other areas of clinical psychology, we all need to remember that studies that look at predictors or positive or poor outcomes do not decide a person’s fate. That’s one of the problems with data given to mental health teams, policymakers and those within education, the data lacks a person’s life that could possibly be helped later on in life by social support, a non-profit or any other future possibilities that professionals come up with.
And we risk losing sight of something even more important here if we focus on the negative. One third of clients with a psychotic disorder recovered. One third of a group of people that society deemed as lost hopeless causes. One third of people that now have their lives back.
And that’s down to amazing professionals, friends and family members. That is an amazing achieve and I will certainly end this episode on a positive note.
That is not something to be a shamed of, that is something to be very proud of for our profession and the amazing people we help.
I really hope you enjoyed today’s clinical psychology podcast episode.
If you want to learn more, please check out:
Abnormal Psychology: The Causes and Treatments For Depression, Anxiety And More. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.
Have a great day!
Clinical Psychology and Psychosis Reference
Peralta, V., García de Jalón, E., Moreno-Izco, L., Peralta, D., Janda, L., Sánchez-Torres, A. M., ... & SEGPEPs Group Ballesteros A Gil-Berrozpe G Hernández R Lorente R Fañanás L Papiol S Ribeiro M Rosero A Zandio M. (2022). Long-Term Outcomes of First-Admission Psychosis: A Naturalistic 21-Year Follow-Up Study of Symptomatic, Functional and Personal Recovery and Their Baseline Predictors. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 48(3), 631-642.
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