The Experience of Being Diagnosed with a Psychiatric Disorder: Living the Label

  • Zelda G Knight
  • Bruce C Bradfield


Informed by the investigative thrust of phenomenological inquiry and the ‘phenomenology of intersubjectivity’, the overarching aim of this article is to provide an accurate illumination of the experience of being diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, and thus being ‘a labelled individual’. This article is based on research that sought to understand the impact of the psychiatric label upon labelled individuals interpersonal and intersubjective presence as experienced outside the psychiatric institution. The principle question asked was: “What is the experience of being a labelled individual in the world?”. It was discovered that psychiatric labelling unfolds as a disconnection and dislocation from co-existence with others. Moreover, labelling had the effect of robbing such individuals of their subjectivity, rendering them lonely, misunderstood and viewed as somehow defective, disabled and wrong.

Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology, Volume 3, Edition 1, November 2003

Author Biographies

Zelda G Knight
Department of Psychology, Rhodes University
Bruce C Bradfield
Oxford, UK

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1445-7377
print ISSN: 2079-7222