Social identity: a grounded theory of experiences of cannabis use and psychosis.
D Clin Psy thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Aims This study aimed to explore the meaning of cannabis use in individuals who had experienced psychosis. Design A social constructionist version of the original grounded theory was used. Setting Participants were recruited from three Community Mental Health Centres and an out-patient setting within the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area. Participants Fourteen individuals who had a diagnosis of Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder or Schizoaffective Disorder and experience of using cannabis were interviewed. Measurements Intensive interviewing was employed. Findings Analysis revealed a central concept of participants’ sense of social identity, which gained expression through the themes of ‘sense of agency’, ‘the cannabis experience’ and ‘belonging’. Experiences of psychosis and interactions with mental health services were characterised by a sense of lack of agency, whereas participants’ narratives of experiences of cannabis conveyed a strong sense that they were the author of their stories. ‘The cannabis experience’ reflected the complexity of issues surrounding use of the substance within this participant group. The theme of ‘belonging’ captured the sense of group membership, unity and acceptance that was facilitated by using cannabis and the way in which psychosis served to disrupt this. Conclusions The findings are discussed in relation to Tajfel’s Social Identity Theory. The importance of understanding cannabis use within a social identity framework, providing opportunities where clients can talk about their experiences and facilitating the empowering process that enables recovery is emphasised.
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