How aging individuals with schizophrenia experience the self-etiology of their illness: a reflective lifeworld research approach

Tal Araten-Bergman, Hila Avieli, Peli Mushkin, Tova Band-Winterstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: In recent years, there are an increasing number of individuals with schizophrenia who are aging within the general society. Self-etiology of the illness refers to its causal attributions by this population as part of the life review process. The aim of this paper is to develop knowledge from the perspective of older people with schizophrenia regarding the self-etiology of their illness. Focusing on the self-etiology of this particular population is useful, to enhance the understanding of their lived experience in the context of their lifeworld. Method: The study was carried out using the reflective lifeworld phenomenological approach. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 aging individuals with schizophrenia followed by analysis for meaning. Results: Five major constituents of the phenomenon under study – the experience of self-etiology among aging people with schizophrenia – emerged from the findings: ‘It leaves you to your fate’ – schizophrenia as a decree of fate; ‘I have sinned against God’ – schizophrenia as a punishment from God; ‘They put something in my coffee’ – schizophrenia as a result of witchcraft; ‘Her genes are in me’ – schizophrenia as genetic; and ‘She left me and that's how I got sick’ – schizophrenia as a result of personal trauma. Conclusions: The findings show that self-etiology in old age tends to be stable, externally attributed and culturally oriented, and serves as a central component in the life review process. This is relevant for professionals developing intervention methods for aging people with schizophrenia.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1147-1156
Number of pages10
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • aging
  • qualitative research
  • schizophrenia
  • self-etiology

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Gerontology
  • Phychiatric Mental Health


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