UBC Theses and Dissertations
The learning and empowerment of people with schizophrenia Price, Colleen A.
These days more and more schizophrenic people are being "mainstreamed" into society. This change in perspective has numerous implications for public policy, mental health services and families but, most importantly, for schizophrenic people. They have to "learn" how to live in the community and "normal" people have to adjust to and learn about schizophrenic people. Learning is a corollary of empowerment and it has become necessary to understand the subjective experience of schizophrenics. The purposes of this study were to interrogate Saljo's developmental model of learning conceptions from the perspective of schizophrenics, and to analyze the interrelationship between schizophrenic conceptions of learning and elements of empowerment. The researcher employed a qualitative methodology and interviewed ten men and ten women (n=20) with schizophrenia living in Vancouver about how they learn to survive with respect to six dimensions of living - housing, income, social support, work and education, leisure, mental health services. Saljo's model of learning conceptions and Davis' model of empowerment were operationalized to provide a framework within which to analyze the twenty transcripts. After the interviews were transcribed the author highlighted and analyzed excerpts concerned with learning and empowerment. Three procedures were used to examine the validity of the researcher's judgments pertaining to the transcripts and the researcher's final interpretation of the data. At the centre of this study was the notion that learning is a corollary of empowerment. The author found limitations within the two chief heuristic devices employed in this study (Saljo's conceptions of learning and Davis' elements of empowerment). Nevertheless, the twenty schizophrenics seemed to go about learning much like so-called "normal" populations. However, the same could not be said aboutempowerment. All felt significantly disempowered by the schizophrenic experience and an entire chapter was devoted to analyzing "subjective" and "objective" constructions of schizophrenia made by macro-level "authors" (e.g.government), macro/micro level authors (e.g. mental healthservices) and micro-level authors such as citizens on the street. It was concluded that disempowerment and marginalization result more from the way "normal" people construct schizophrenia than from the psychological disorganisation of the schizophrenics themselves. In future, it would be desirable to approach this problem from a critical perspective that focuses on the context as much as or more than the individual.
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