MS and me: exploring the impact of multiple sclerosis on perceptions of self

Disabil Rehabil. 2012;34(14):1208-17. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2011.638032. Epub 2011 Dec 13.


Purpose: The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the impact of multiple sclerosis (MS) on perceptions of self as well as the emotional, social and practical implications of any self-reported changes.

Method: Twelve participants were interviewed and interpretative phenomenological analysis used to analyse the data. Participants were recruited from a MS hospital clinic in the north-west of England.

Results: Four themes were identified although for reasons of space and novelty three were discussed, (i) 'my body didn't belong to me': the changing relationship to body, (ii) 'I miss the way I feel about myself': the changing relationship to self and (iii) 'let's just try and live with it': incorporating yet separating MS from self.

Conclusions: The onset of MS was seen to impact upon self yet impact did not necessarily equate with a loss of self but rather a changed self. Self-related changes did, however, carry the potential to impact negatively upon a person's mood and psychological functioning and consequently, clinicians are encouraged to consider issues relating to self as standard.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Emotions
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Concept*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires