Development of a Theoretical Framework for Understanding Meaning in Life in the Context of Mental Health Recovery in Western Europe

Poster C84, Wednesday, October 10, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Essex Ballroom

Donal O'Keeffe1,2, Brian Keogh2, Mary Clarke1,3, Agnes Higgins2; 1DETECT Early Intervention in Psychosis Service, Dublin, Ireland, 2Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, 3University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

Purpose: Meaning in Life (MIL) has been theorised since humankind developed the capacity for self-reflection and philosophical, theological, and metaphysical contemplation. The recovery oriented approach requires service system development and reform to prioritise service user defined recovery—a component of which is MIL. A wide range of disciplines have put forward theories of MIL; but as yet, no theoretical framework of MIL that integrates these diverse discourses has been developed. Materials and Methods: A comprehensive review of differing theoretical positions adopted on MIL was conducted and is presented. A theoretical framework was formed by deconstructing prior theories of MIL, comparing and contrasting them, and identifying their implicit assumptions in the context of mental health recovery. Results: A typology of MIL theoretical discourses was developed based on (i) whether or not MIL exists and (ii) our capacity, efficacy, and agency to build MIL ourselves. The latter is subdivided into (i) discourses which deem MIL as a purely attainable from external sources; (ii) discourses which identify individual thought and action as the only well of meaning; and (iii) theoretical positions that integrate these two perspectives. Conclusion: Engaging with these various discourses can provide insight into the numerous political, cultural, and social influences that citizens of Western Europe are exposed to as they embark on the quest to live meaningful lives and comprehend MIL. The theoretical framework offered can be utilised to guide recovery oriented mental health research and treatment.

Topic Area: Service System Development and Reform

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