Intimacy and its barriers: A qualitative exploration of intimacy and related struggles among people diagnosed with psychosis

Jose de Jager*, Bahar Cirakoglu, Annet Nugter, Jim van Os

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Web of Science)


Previous studies indicate that intimate relationships and sexual expression are common unmet needs amongst people with psychosis. Research has mainly focused on sexuality and sexual dysfunction and little is known about the effects of psychosis on intimacy and intimate relationships. This study aimed to explore which problems participants encounter in establishing intimacy and maintaining intimate relationships, from the perspective of interpersonal process model of intimacy. Twenty-eight participants with a psychotic disorder receiving flexible assertive community treatment were interviewed about their needs and experiences with intimate relationships, using a semi-structured interview. The interviews were transcribed and coded using Grounded Theory methodology. Five overarching categories in relation to problems in establishing and maintaining intimate relationships emerged: side effects of medication, mental symptoms, stigma and self-stigma, sexual abuse, and lack of social skills and experience. Loss of self-esteem was an overarching central theme common to all five categories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-309
Number of pages9
JournalPsychosis-Psychological Social and Integrative Approaches
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Relationships
  • intimacy
  • recovery
  • psychosis
  • LIFE
  • NEED

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