Some researchers think that people with a severe mental illness - such as schizophrenia - who are optimistic are more likely to find means to redefine themselves, to accept their condition, to overcome stigmatising beliefs and to actively function in the community. Others think that optimism means that people are 'in denial' about their illness and that it is not necessarily a good thing. But what makes some people with a severe mental illness more optimistic than others? Researchers from the University of Montreal looked at information from two studies. One was of 150 patients with early psychosis and the second was of 143 people with severe mental illness engaged in a vocational rehabilitation service. They found that in the first sample increased optimism could be explained by higher self-esteem, a higher capacity for leisure activities, low depression and less belief that one's problems constituted an illness. In the second study high self-esteem, low depression and high levels of social support were associated with increased optimism.
Lecomte, Tania, Corbiere, Marc and Theroux, Laurence - Correlates and predictors of optimism in individuals with early psychosis or severe mental illness Psychosis June 2010, 2(2), 122-133