College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-13-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Mona Shattell, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

LaVome Robinson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Richard Renfro, Ph.D.


The goal of the dissertation project described here is to explore and unpack the role of agency, understood as a form of "intentionalized action" (Ortner, 1996), in participants' experiences of psychosis and associated narratives and explanations of these experiences. We present in-depth cthnographically-infom1cd qualitative analyses of the accounts of 14 participants, organized around the interimplication of agency in and with the overlapping domains of symptomatology, narrative, and explanation. Our analyses suggest that the play of agency in psychosis is far richer and more nuanced than most existing scholarship suggests, underscoring the value of greater attention to agentive complexities involved in the structuring, re-structuring and negotiation of symptoms as well as discursive processes of culturally-engaged sense-making.