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OBJECTIVES: While one third of people with a psychotic disorder are a parent, there has been little research to date examining the consequences of this from a whole family perspective. This study investigates families where a parent has experienced an episode of psychosis and compares and contrasts the family members' perspectives. DESIGN: This study was rooted in phenomenology and data were derived from in-depth semi-structured interviews. METHODS: Parents with a psychotic disorder who had a child aged between 3 and 11 in a UK NHS Trust were invited to take part in the study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with these parents, with their child (if they were between the ages of 8 and 11), and with their partner or another close family member. Data were analysed using multiperspectival interpretive phenomenological analysis (m-IPA). RESULTS: Thirteen participants took part comprising of five parents, four children, three partners and one grandmother. Four themes were developed using m-IPA: (1) Parental psychosis impacts the whole family, (2) Psychosis and my role as a parent, (3) Secrecy and concealment surrounding parental psychosis, and (4) Pressures and vulnerabilities within the family system. CONCLUSION: Psychosis had a negative impact on all family members and secrecy existed between family members. The children in particular only had partial information about their parent's mental illness, which left them worried and confused. More work is needed to support these families to explain psychosis to the children.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychol Psychother

Publication Date



family experience of illness, interpretative phenomenological analysis, multiple perspectives, parental mental illness, psychosis