Psychosis has personal meaning which is unique to the individual and which can be understood with time and effort. A view of psychosis symptoms as meaningless is not only incorrect but enhances stigma, alienation, and a sense of being ‘other.’ (Slade, 2009, p. 117). One study of individuals living with schizophrenia revealed that existential needs such as meaning were in fact the most important need, taking precedence over more obvious needs for housing, work, and medication (Wagner & King, 2005).
The expression of psychosis can reflect strong emotions (Lakeman, 2006), trauma (Read, Fink, Rudegeair, Felitti & Whitfield, 2008), loneliness, stressful life events, and spiritual crises (Martens, 2010), and issues of victimhood, power, and fear (Slade, 2009). Psychosis can also be a coping mechanism, an attempt to make sense of a situation that does not make sense (Cullberg, 2006). Working through these issues, individually or with loved ones, with a peer supporter, or with a clinician, can lead to significant personal growth and healing. Although people experiencing psychosis are often considered to be unavailable to the therapeutic process, and to need only medication and perhaps support (Schwartz & Summers, 2009), research indicates that they want psychotherapy and have much to say (Rosenbaum & Harder, 2007, and Perez-Alvarez, Garcia-Montes, Vallina-Fernandez, Perona-Garcelan, & Cuevas-Yust, 2011).