The emotional experience of individuals who experience psychosis has to a large
extent been neglected, possibly in part due to the historical divide between the
psychoses and neuroses. However recent research would suggest that individuals
who experience psychosis experience emotional dysfunction to a similar extent as
those with other mental health problems. The relatively new field of emotion
regulation may provide insight into emotional dysfunction in psychosis and therefore
the aim of this thesis is to better understand emotional experience and regulation in
psychosis in comparison with other mental health problems and healthy volunteers.
This study used a between-groups design and was based on an opportunity sample of
patients attending clinical psychology departments.
Three groups of participants were recruited for this study comprising of 21
individuals who had experienced psychosis, 21 individuals with an anxiety/mood
disorder and 21 healthy volunteers. The participants completed 2 measures of
emotion regulation: the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ) and the Emotion
Regulation Questionnaire-2 (ERQ-2); a measure of emotional experience: the Basic
Emotions Scale and a measure of coping strategies: the Brief COPE.
The clinical groups were found to utilise similar emotion regulation strategies and in
comparison to healthy volunteers they used significantly more dysfunctional and less
functional strategies. The clinical groups were found to experience similar levels of
emotions and in comparison to healthy volunteers they experienced greater levels of
negatively valenced emotions and lower levels of happiness. The clinical groups
were also found to use greater amounts of maladaptive coping strategies and lesser
amounts of problem-focussed coping strategies than the healthy volunteers.
Overall it appears that emotional experience and regulation in psychosis may be
more similar to neuroses than originally was believed to be the case. This would
suggest therefore that theories of psychosis should take into consideration emotional
dysfunction. Difficulties with emotion regulation should be considered as potential
contributory factors in the development, maintenance and course of psychosis.
Further research is required in order to validate the findings of this study and to
further develop theories of emotion regulation in psychosis.