This research study focused on persons with schizophrenia who live with hallucinations on a daily basis. In qualitative research, a primary challenge is in depicting the experiential response to the phenomenon, in this case, hallucinations, in a way that portrays this experience as real, vivid, and rich. This begins with the research question. Second, the challenge is in choosing the method that can best answer the research question and exemplify the phenomenon. In this study, I was particularly interested in describing hallucinations in a way that healthcare providers could understand. Therefore, capturing the vividness of the interviews and participants’ experience was paramount.
Sampling was purposive. A total of 12 individuals described their experiences of hallucinations. All interviews were recorded with voluntary consent, university institutional review board approval, and transcribed verbatim. Heideggerian hermeneutics guided thematic analysis. The analytical framework that aligned with this perspective is that of Diekelman, Allen & Tanner.
Four themes described an overarching theme of surviving and persevering: (a) are they who they are? (b) a not-so-certain life, (c) finding strength in the broken places, and (d) I am still me. Although experiencing hallucinations was analogous to living with loss, participants recalled hallucinations as providing something positive in how they cared for and related to others. The language of loss was palpable. To develop interventions, it is paramount that practitioners incorporate a language of caring that supports their clients who are already overwhelmed by the “business of getting better.”