Журнал психологии и психотерапии

Журнал психологии и психотерапии
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ISSN: 2161-0487


Poetry as a Framework for Understanding Embodied Experiences of Bipolar Disorder

Bonnie Lashewicz and Irfan Shah

This paper is about making sense of bipolar disorder. We open with lines from a poem titled “Oasis of Life” by the poet /coauthor of this article which are part of his endeavor to know and tell some of his embodied experience living with bipolar disorder. We then use this poetry as a framework for interpreting stories of others living with/ supporting someone living with bipolar disorder as described by three members – two sisters and their mother – from a family where both sisters and their father have bipolar disorder. These family members stories are treated here as an instrumental casestudy and were collected through in-depth private interviews as part of a qualitative study conducted by the first author to better understand needs of adults who have disability and/or mental health issues and who support close family members with disability and/or mental health issues. Our purpose is to bring together poetry and research data in an exploratory way with the poet, or to use Hornstein’s term, “expert by experience”, sharing in data analysis with the researcher or “expert by training”. From our analysis, we provide an early stage illustration of how poetry may be an effective and unifying mechanism for interpretation and communication of complex embodied experience of bipolar disorder