The importance of personal medicine: a qualitative study of resilience in people with psychiatric disabilities

Scand J Public Health Suppl. 2005 Oct:66:29-35. doi: 10.1080/14034950510033345.


Background: Resilience does not refer to a magical state of invulnerability and the capacity for resilience does not end when one is diagnosed with a prolonged disorder or disease. Despite the enduring legacy of pessimism regarding resilience in the population of people diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, a majority do recover.

Aim: The present study seeks to understand how people with psychiatric disorders demonstrate the capacity for resilience in the ways they use or do not use psychiatric medications in their daily lives.

Method: A qualitative method and participatory action design was used to analyze interviews with 29 people diagnosed with psychiatric disorders.

Results: When discussing their use of psychiatric medications, research participants also talked about non-pharmaceutical, personal medicine. Personal medicine was found to be those activities that gave life meaning and purpose, and that served to raise self-esteem, decrease symptoms, and avoid unwanted outcomes such as hospitalization. When psychiatric medications interfered with non-pharmaceutical personal medicine, non-adherence often occurred.

Conclusion: People with psychiatric disorders demonstrate resilience through the use of non-pharmaceutical, personal medicine in the recovery process. This understanding suggests that medication adherence may be improved when clinicians inquire about patients' personal medicine and use pharmaceuticals to support, rather than interfere with, these self-assessed health resources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mentally Ill Persons / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Personality Disorders / drug therapy
  • Personality Disorders / therapy
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Schizophrenia / therapy
  • Self Concept
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Refusal


  • Psychotropic Drugs