A Diagnosis of Schizophrenia: The Role of Service User Stories in Challenging Stigma

Joanna Ruth Fox


I reflect on how lived experiences that are derived from service user expert knowledge have the potential to confront stigmatization, which is encountered widely by people who have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. The implications of the political dimensions of the diagnosis are explored and the impact of stigma on those who have mental ill-health is discussed. The value of narrative research is highlighted, and the growing importance and increasing recognition of the validity of service user expert knowledge is considered. Using two stories to illustrate how professionals responded to me as a parent with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, I highlight the defensive practice I experienced and the assumptions about me as a person with mental ill-health. I reflect on how simultaneous feelings of power and powerlessness, accorded to my personal and professional status, are experienced in this context. This leads to consideration of the potential for service user expert knowledge, specifically in the context of narrative research, and how such knowledge expressed in stories and narratives can influence professional frameworks of practice. Schizophrenia is indeed a diagnosis of discrimination, but the presentation of service user expert knowledge through narrative research has the potential to overcome the experiences of stigmatization.


mental ill-health, stigma, schizophrenia, narrative research, social inclusion

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