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date: 13 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Given the loss of a sense of self long-associated with psychosis, this chapter argues that preserving and helping to reconstruct the person’s sense of personhood becomes a primary objective, and ethical imperative, of the psychotherapeutic relationship. Not to do so serves to perpetuate both the negative effects of the illness and its stigmatized status in society, adding to, rather than counteracting, the damage that is already being done to the person by this combination of factors. Drawing inspiration from Desmond Tutu’s use of the African concept of Ubuntu, this chapter argues that psychotherapy for psychosis should embody an appreciation of how persons only become persons through other people. Based on first-person accounts and qualitative research on recovery, it then describes ways in which the person’s sense of self can be restored and reconstructed through small steps in everyday life activities and with the loving support of others, including psychotherapists.

Keywords: sense of self, personhood, agency, stigma, discrimination, micro-affirmations, micro-aggressions, Ubuntu

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