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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 54 (2012) 12, 1021 - 1029

Essay

Self-experience in the early phase of psychosis: a phenomenological approach

G.B. van de Kraats, S.E. de Haan, G. Meynen

background The early detection of psychotic disorders is seen to be increasingly important. Authors of recent articles are adopting a phenomenological approach, taking the view that changes in self-experience represent a major prodromal feature of psychotic disorders.
aim To find out what a phenomenological approach can contribute to the study of the early phase of psychotic disorders.
method We discuss the literature that explores to what extent changes in self-experience are a central phenomenon in the prodromal phase of psychotic disorders. We also present a phenomenological model that explains these changes.
results Characteristic changes in self-experience during the prodromal phase of psychotic disorders can provide the framework for an empirical, phenomenological explanatory model.
conclusion In an empirical, phenomenological approach early changes in a patient’s self-experience are considered to play a central role. There are some indications that semi-structured interviews focusing on changes in a patient’s self-experience can contribute to the early detection of psychotic disorders.

keywords phenomenology, prodromal phase, psychosis, self-experience