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Frederick Green is a 2015 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • James Fauth, PhD, Dissertation Chair
  • Victor Pantesco, EdD, Committee Member
  • William Slammon, PhD, Committee Member

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

2015

Abstract

This dissertation examined the subjective experience of individuals who have healed from Chronic Lyme Disease (CLD). Despite significant attention paid to the controversy over CLD diagnosis and treatment, scholarly research has neglected the psychosocial and/or spiritual factors that facilitate healing from the perspective of CLD sufferers. This study addressed this research gap by using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to explore the barriers and facilitators of healing among those who have healed from CLD. Six participants who had suffered from CLD and considered themselves healed from the disease were recruited and interviewed. The qualitative data was reduced to meaning units, which were then grouped into common themes, were clustered into superordinate themes. Quality control procedures, including peer audits and journaling, were implemented to enhance the credibility and trustworthiness of the analysis. Findings revealed that the political controversy over CLD and a lack of understanding from conventional medicine practitioners were barriers to healing. Participants reported that healing in mind, body and spirit was necessary to transcend suffering, and that healing each one of these systems had a reciprocal effect on the others. Participants experienced validation and social support as facilitators to health. Participants explained that changing their ways of life, changing their relationship to thoughts and emotions, engaging in a spiritual practice, looking introspectively, and undergoing a “spiritual awakening” allowed for an increased sense of meaning and agency, which facilitated healing. These spiritual practices included prayer, yoga, meditation, chakra stretching, and a “spiritual retreat.” Alternative medicine was also cited by participants as helpful in healing from CLD. Some of the implications of these results include a need for (a) improved collaboration between the CLD sufferer and the medical community to minimize perceived stigma; (b) conventional medical professionals to refer CLD sufferers to practitioners who recognize, diagnose, and treat CLD in order to shorten the lag time between CLD onset and diagnosis/treatment; and © emotional, introspective, and spiritual help in healing the disease through individual and group therapy. Future research on alternative medicine for CLD, comparative treatment studies, and the effectiveness of individual and group therapy models for CLD is recommended.

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