Kintsugi – identity change and reconstruction following an episode of psychosis: a systematic review and thematic synthesis

Olivia Harris, Anna Lawes, Carina Andrews, Pamela Jacobsen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Research has shown that experiences of psychosis can have a significant impact on an individual's identity. Moreover, the way those who experience psychosis make sense of these changes appears to affect their recovery journey and hold clinical significance. However, this area of research is still very much developing, and there is a need for reviews, which look to synthesise and understand this process of identity change to guide clinicians working in this area as well as future research. This study looks to meet that gap and aims to synthesise qualitative literature exploring the lived experience of identity change amongst people who experience psychosis.

A systematic review using thematic synthesis was carried out. The PRISMA and ENTREQ guidelines were followed in reporting the study.

Ninety-one papers were identified which met criteria for inclusion and 31 papers included in the synthesis at which point conceptual saturation was judged to have been reached. Five themes were created: psychosis as an obliteration of the old self; the futile fight against psychosis; mourning for who I was; the battle for self as a battle against disempowerment; and recovery as rebirth.

Results highlighted the substantive impact an experience of psychosis has on an individual's identity, the key role sense making around these identity changes plays in recovery and the crucial impact of clinicians on the sense-making process. The implications for theory, future research and clinical practice are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-714
Number of pages26
JournalEarly Intervention in Psychiatry
Issue number7
Early online date19 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2022


  • identity
  • meta-synthesis
  • psychosis
  • qualitative
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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