The purpose of this dissertation was to contribute to the current understanding about identity development in young adults who experience psychosis and schizophrenia. The article in Chapter 2 Using Authentic Identity Theories to Address the Stigmatization of Young People Who Experience Psychosis and Schizophrenia examined the literature on identity development for young adults who experience psychosis and schizophrenia and how stigma affects that process. The article used two theories of young adult authentic identity development to illuminate the typical developmental processes and experiences of young people. The article used these theories to understanding about how psychosis and schizophrenia might influence identity development in young adults. The article presented a platform for the need to use developmentally informed frameworks for this group to combat stigma. The article also presented the potential clinical implications, mental health treatment practice suggestions, and future research suggestions from the crossroads of typical experiences of young adult identity formation, stigma, and the unique experiences of young people with psychosis and schizophrenia. Chapter 3, Making Sense of Psychosis: Young People Who Have Experienced Psychosis and Schizophrenia Becoming Who They Really Are, used qualitative research grounded theory methodology to explore identity development in young adults who experienced psychosis and schizophrenia. The study gave voice to the experiences of seven young adult research participants who have lived experiences of psychosis and schizophrenia. The study used methodology consistent with grounded theory research practices. Throughout the research process, participants were individually interviewed three times. All interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed.
Data analysis generated the central category of identity construction, called "making sense of psychosis". Analysis also illuminated the properties of making sense of psychosis, which were called developing beliefs about psychosis and degrees of freedom. These properties and their dimensions influenced and were influenced by the contexts exploring relationships and relating to personal potential. The general consequence of participants' process and experience of making sense of psychosis was called "becoming who I really am", which best described participants incorporating psychosis into their sense of identity. The potential for a reciprocal action process existing between making sense of psychosis and becoming who I really am was also explored. This study provides a qualitative description, grounded in data, of identity development in young adults who experience psychosis and schizophrenia. The potential implications of these findings for mental health treatment providers, clinical supervisors, counselor educators, and future research suggestions were also discussed.