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Brief Reports   |    
The Subjective Experience of Youths at Clinically High Risk of Psychosis: A Qualitative Study
Shelly Ben-David, M.S.W.; Michael L. Birnbaum, M.D.; Mara E. Eilenberg, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.; Jordan E. DeVylder, M.S., Ph.D.; Kelly E. Gill, M.A.; Jessica Schienle, M.S.; Neyra Azimov, B.A.; Ellen P. Lukens, Ph.D.; Larry Davidson, Ph.D.; Cheryl M. Corcoran, M.D., M.S.
Psychiatric Services 2014; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201300527
View Author and Article Information

Ms. Ben-David is with the Silver School of Social Work, New York University, New York City. Dr. Birnbaum is with the Department of Psychiatry, Zucker Hillside Hospital, New York City. Ms. Eilenberg and Dr. Corcoran are with the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York City. Dr. DeVylder is with the School of Social Work, University of Maryland, Baltimore. Ms. Gill is with the Department of Psychology, Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. Ms. Schienle is with the Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California. Ms. Azimov is a medical student at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, Stony Brook, New York. Dr. Lukens is with the School of Social Work, Columbia University, New York City. Dr. Davidson is with the Department of Psychiatry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. Send correspondence to Dr. Corcoran (e-mail: cc788@columbia.edu).

Copyright © 2014 by the American Psychiatric Association

Abstract

Objective  Understanding the experience of individuals across stages of schizophrenia is important for development of services to promote recovery. As yet, little is known about the experience of individuals who exhibit prodromal symptoms of schizophrenia.

Methods  Audiotaped interviews were conducted with 27 participants of diverse racial-ethnic backgrounds who were at clinically high risk of psychosis (15 males and 12 females; mean age 21). Phenomenological qualitative research techniques of coding, consensus, and comparison were used.

Results  Emergent themes differed by gender. Themes for males were feeling abnormal or “broken,” focus on going “crazy,” fantasy and escapism, and alienation and despair, with a desire for relationships. Themes for females were psychotic illness among family members, personal trauma, struggle with intimate relationships, and career and personal development.

Conclusions  The finding of relative social engagement and future orientation of females identified as at risk for psychosis is novel and has implications for outreach and treatment.

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