The Formation and Maintenance of Social Relationships among Individuals Living with Schizophrenia
AbstractThis study begins with the premise that individuals living with schizophrenia can and do develop social relationships and derive pleasure from these relationships. This premise prompted us to explore how individuals living with schizophrenia form and maintain social relationships. We begin by considering two important constructs with respect to the role of social relationships, the constructs of intersubjective self and occupational self. This study was directed by a grounded theory methodology. Grounded theory focuses on firsthand knowledge of empirical worlds while recognizing the role the researcher plays in the interpretation of findings (Charmaz, 2006a). Eight individuals participated in in-depth interviews with the first author. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, analyzed, and emergent themes were organized into five core themes. The findings suggest that environmental proximity, a routine environment, reciprocity, constancy/hope, and understanding are important dimensions in the formation and maintenance of social relationships. We discuss these findings in terms of two reciprocal processes: (1) structural form, and (2) relational qualities. The findings of this study suggest that structural forms such as environmental proximity and routine environments, dimensions frequently facilitated by engagement in occupation, contribute to opportunities for persons living with schizophrenia to form and maintain relationships. Furthermore, relational qualities such as reciprocity, constancy and understanding, were found to be highly valued, and to be implicated in participants' engagement in social relationships. This theoretical account of how individuals form and maintain relationships attempts to privilege the voices of persons living with Schizophrenia, and can act as a catalyst for future research and a lens through which to view rehabilitation practice.