There has been lots of research into psychosis but relatively little of it has looked at the thoughts, feelings and life histories of the people who suffer from the condition. John Rhodes from the Willesden Mental Health Resources Centre in London and Simon Jakes from Campbelltown Hospital in New South Wales looked at 28 people's accounts of their illness. They were particularly interested in the ways in which the condition developed and whether this was related to any interpersonal difficulties the participants had been experiencing at the time. After studying the participants' accounts they came up with three patterns of onset: an eruptive, sudden transformation of oneself or one's world; a slow progressive onset characterised by interconnected changes in meaning and experience and an onset beginning in people's childhood experiences. Social difficulties were mentioned spontaneously by 17 of the participants and another 9 discussed them when asked. People who had developed psychosis gradually, or in their childhood, had felt negative emotion about, and been preoccupied with, a difficult interpersonal issue over a long time. The participants' stories suggested that certain ideas and images can take hold of a person, become interwoven into their thinking and start to influence the way they see the world and/or themselves. The authors conclude by suggesting that it is important for people trying to help those with delusions to get them to talk about how their condition started.
Rhodes, John and Jakes, Simon - Perspectives on the onset of delusions Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy March-April 2010, 17(2), 136-146