Theses Doctoral

"My Life as it is has Value:" A Narrative Approach to Understanding Life Course Experiences of Older Adults with Schizophrenia

Ogden, Lydia P.

This study used thematic narrative analysis to address the question: How do older adults who experience serious ongoing symptoms of schizophrenia understand and express stories of their personal survivorship in the face of life-course and present-time adversities? Framed by the developmental life course perspective and using major constructs of the theory of cumulative adversity and advantage to formulate a line of semi-structured questioning for narrative interviews about the life course experiences of older adults with schizophrenia who experienced ongoing illness symptoms, analysis of 31 interviews with six older adults with schizophrenia yielded findings across five central areas. Shared core themes included: 1) "My life as it is has value:" Narrating schizophrenia in later life; 2) "I have a key and live like a real person:" Homelessness and housing challenges in retrospect; 3) "There's not been jobs:" The meaning of employment; 4) "God told me how we're going to meet back up:" Narratives of relational conflict and loss, adjustment and renewal. A fifth area of findings developed the theory of cumulative adversity and advantage across the life course with schizophrenia. These results improve our understanding of the subjective experience of a highly vulnerable but grossly understudied and underserved population. Recommendations for focusing future research and development of more effective social work practice and policies are made.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
Burnette, Jacqueline Denise
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 16, 2014