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Developing an understanding of recovery for people experiencing Personality Disorder living in the community. Project team: Kati Turner: Service User Researcher, St George’s, University of London (SGUL) & Chair of Emergence

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Developing an understanding of recovery for people experiencing Personality Disorder living in the community

Project team:

Kati Turner: Service User Researcher, St George’s, University of London (SGUL) & Chair of Emergence

Marion Neffgen: Psychiatry Specialty Trainee, South West London & St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust (SWL&StG)

Steve Gillard: Health Services Researcher, SGUL

Thanks to:

Kath Lovell: Managing Director, Emergence

Stephen Miller: Clinical Lead for PD at South West London & St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust (SWL&StG)


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Aims experiencing Personality Disorder living in the community

To explore understandings of recovery in relation to the experience of Personality Disorder

To explore how the different perspectives of service user, clinical and academic researcher inform an integrated understanding of recovery and Personality Disorder


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Project Design experiencing Personality Disorder living in the community

Six in-depth interviews undertaken jointly by service user researcher and clinical researcher with members of a peer support project for people experiencing PD living in the community

Semi-structured interview schedule using open questions to enable interviewees to explore their experiences and understandings of recovery

Interviews digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim

A three stage analysis process that seeks to capture the different interpretations of members of the research team


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Analysis 1: Themes – examples experiencing Personality Disorder living in the community


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Analysis 2: Interpretation of theme experiencing Personality Disorder living in the community‘Recovery & Society’

Marion’s interpretation

Ambivalent feelings about integration into ‘normal society’

Benefits of being able to socialise for recovery

Importance of vocational/ educational opportunities for integration into society

Perceiving oneself as a failure compared with the ‘normal world’

Importance of and worries about benefits/ finances/ medical examinations

Kati’s interpretation

Positive effects of integration into/ interacting with society

Negative effects of integration into/ interacting with society

Feeling separate from ‘normal’ society/ outside world. What is ‘Normality’ for people with PD?

Dilemma of how much contact to have with society/outside world

Society – its rules and systems such as benefits, welfare and housing issues


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Analysis 3: Integrated understanding - experiencing Personality Disorder living in the community‘Recovery & Society’

Ambivalence – Wish to be part of society v ‘how much interaction can I cope with?’ Positive and negative feelings

‘Recovery is the realisation that perhaps a bit more contact with the outside world or socially in terms of relationships is actually quite a positive sign’

‘Recovery? I only feel that I’m feeling better because I don’t have to engage with the world.’

Society’s rules and systems - benefits, housing, work and education and its impact on recovery

‘If you haven’t got your basics in life you haven’t got time to concentrate on your head.’

‘I am starting college in September. I think college is a big part of the change for me.’

What does ‘normal’ mean & can I be ‘normal’?

‘I work pretty hard at being seen as normal’

‘When you don’t see a living soul, you don’t know what normal is ... you don’t know what normal acceptable behaviour is.’


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Reflections experiencing Personality Disorder living in the community

Collaborative research process is complex and time consuming

Value lies in developing an integrated understanding that is meaningful for service users and clinicians

Potential to inform practice and service development


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Last thoughts experiencing Personality Disorder living in the community

‘It’s all very well to say you can recover and change my thoughts according to behavioural therapy... but then you only have to start walking outside and you have to be extremely strong to withstand all the cultural messages... It’s hard to remain feeling mentally together.’


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