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Feeling de-humanised by distressing voices on psychosis: Developing a conceptualisation and model for intervention.


Department of Psychology

Prof Paul Chadwick , Sunday, April 18, 2021 Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Research Centre: Bath Centre for Mindfulness and Compassion

The project: Hearing voices, also called auditory hallucinations, is a common experience for people with mental health difficulties such as psychosis and schizophrenia. People who hear voices have reported that one of the most upsetting things about the experience, is the feeling that it sets them apart from other people in some way, and makes them less than ‘human’. This experience of ‘de-humanisation’ has been little explored in psychosis so far, but may be crucial in understanding how to develop effective psychological therapies, such as mindfulness for psychosis, to reduce distress and increase quality of life for people affected by it. The aim of mindfulness for psychosis is to seek to help people with distressing voices to feel more understood and human in spite of ongoing voices and psychosis. Delivered in a group setting, this can begin to break down a sense of being dehumanised and set apart by bringing voice hearers together, so that they recognise their common humanity.

This PhD would be a mixed-methods project, with 3 main stages.

First, the student will conduct a narrative systematic literature review to synthesise existing knowledge about ‘de-humanisation’. This will draw on existing models of dehumanisation, and how these concepts have already been successfully applied in physical and mental health disorders, and will consider the implications for voice hearing and psychosis specifically.

Second, the student will build on existing qualitative to understand more about the phenomenology of de-humanisation itself.

Third, the student would design a quantitative study to evaluate whether group-based mindfulness for psychosis is effective in targeting and modifying key factors which have been identified as playing a part in the process of feeling de-humanised. This is likely to involve conducting mediational analyses.

The successful PhD student will be supervised by Professor Paul Chadwick and Dr. Pamela Jacobsen, who are internationally recognised experts in the field of mindfulness for psychosis. The student will conduct their PhD within the newly formed Bath Centre for Mindfulness and Compassion (BCMC) at the University of Bath. This will provide exciting opportunities for networking with other mindfulness experts at the University of Bath, and with key external collaborators. This would be a highly suitable PhD for a candidate looking to later pursue a DClinPsy qualification, given that the supervisory teams are both HCPC registered Clinical Psychologists. Voluntary clinical work on a part-time basis could also be arranged in local NHS services for candidates interested in pursuing a clinical career.

Entry requirements: Applicants should hold a 1st/2:1 undergraduate degree in a relevant field and a master's qualification (or due to complete soon).

How to apply: Applicants should visit the 'How to apply for Doctoral Study at Bath' page, linked below. Applicants must meet the programme entry requirements and be eligible for Home fee status.

How to apply for doctoral study (bath.ac.uk)

Start date: October 2021


Funding Notes

Subject to contract, funding is available for up to 4years (subject to continued satisfactory progress) funded by Mental Health Research UK (MHRUK). The studentship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and provide an annual stipend of £15,285 (21/22 rate) in line with the UKRI stipend. The fourth year is regarded as a ‘writing up’ year and the grant will be the stipend and thesis fee only.

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