Background. The experience of mental ill health is fundamentally disempowering. The processes of psychiatric hospital care and treatment may also add to the personal feeling of disempowerment. This disempowerment is partly due to the failure of others to afford a proper hearing to the person's story of his/her experiences and problems in life. Hence, there is a need to investigate patients' experiences of being mentally ill with psychosis and being helped in a psychiatric hospital.
Aim. This paper describes the application of a phenomenological method of analysis derived from Amadeo Giorgi to an investigation of psychiatric patients' experiences about being mentally ill with psychosis and being helped in a psychiatric hospital ward in Northern Finland.
Method. This phenomenological study was conducted with nine voluntary adult patients recovering from psychosis. In 1998, patients were interviewed regarding their experiences of psychosis and being helped. The verbatim transcripts of these interviews were analysed using Giorgi's phenomenological method. Giorgi's method of analysis aims to uncover the meaning of a phenomenon as experienced by a human through the identification of essential themes. Patients' experiences of psychosis and being helped were clustered into a specific description of situated structure and a general description of situated structure.
Findings. The Giorgian method of phenomenological analysis was a clear-cut process, which gave a structure to the analyses and justified the decisions made while analysing the data. A phenomenological study of this kind encourages psychiatric nurses to focus on patients' experiences.
Conclusion. Phenomenological study and Giorgi's method of analysis are applicable while investigating psychiatric patients' experiences and give new knowledge of the experiences of patients and new views of how to meet patients' needs.