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Generating Coherence out of Chaos: Examples of the Utility of Empathic Bridges in Phenomenological Research

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The purpose of this paper was to provide an example from phenomenological research of moving from rich descriptive interview data to coherent revelatory descriptions employing empathic bridges within the narrative structure of storytelling. We used transcribed data from two interviews concerning recovery from severe mental illness: one with an American woman in her early thirties, and the other with a Swedish man in his mid-thirties. Five investigators analyzed the transcribed data into individual first-person narrative descriptions according to existing empirical phenomenological methods including an independent reading, identification of themes relevant to processes of recovery from severe mental illness, temporal ordering of themes meaningfully reflecting the sequence of the recounted events, and consensus development. Our findings support the use of empathic bridges as a methodological tool with the narrative structure of firstperson storytelling, as well as the viability and importance of employing this tool to better understand processes of recovery for persons with severe mental illness.


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