Lost in Time, Stuck in Space
: An Exploration of the Relationship to a Diagnosis of “Chronic Depression”

  • Sara Hagerman

Student thesis: PsychD


“Depression” is seen as a global epidemic, with rates increasing across the world. However, critical narratives surrounding the paradigms and diagnostic systems underpinning this label for distress are growing in number. If we are to question the usefulness of the diagnostic classification paradigms of mental health, it is vital that we understand how service users relate to their diagnosis. This study aimed to investigate this within the under-researched population of those having a “chronic depression” diagnosis, as the perceived chronicity of their diagnosis would be of relevance for exploring diagnostic attachment and relational processes. Ten individuals took part in semi-structured interviews using Constructivist Grounded Theory methodology (Charmaz, 2014). The categories that emerged from the findings were Understanding, managing, and validating suffering; Diagnosis and the self: immersion, separation, and function; Timeless and hopeless: alive but not living. A core category of Lost in space, stuck in time reflects the relationships between these conceptual categories, showing a spiralling internal process, increasingly coiling around a pillar structure that represents the diagnosis itself. This construct keeps people rooted and safe yet restricts their movements away from the diagnosis. The findings are discussed in relation to relevant and current research literature, as well as in consideration to the field of Counselling Psychology, and relevant recommendations for future practice and research.
Date of Award11 Apr 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorPaul Dickerson (Director of Studies) & James Davies (Co-Supervisor)


  • Depression
  • Critical Psychology
  • Mental Health Diagnosis
  • Constructivist Grounded Theory

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