An investigation into the relationship between early maladaptive schemas and myalgic encephalomyalitis/ chronic fatigue syndrome
The aim of the research was to investigate the relationship between early maladaptive schemas, as described by Young, Klosko and Weishaar (2003), and Myalgic encephalomyalitis /Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). Despite the recognition of characteristics associated with these schemas in people with ME/CFS by clinicians, a review of the literature suggests that systematic research into this relationship has not previously been conducted. This thesis progresses knowledge in this area by providing a schema-level understanding of ME/CFS and offering insights into the behavioural process involved in the progression from schema to illness. The research employed mixed methods enabling a consideration of the relationship from different perspectives, and is grounded in a critical realist perspective. The quantitative study involved 40 people with ME/CFS and 40 people from a non- clinical population who completed Young's Schema Questionnaire (YSQ-S3), a questionnaire designed to elicit 18 early maladaptive schemas. The schemas Unrelenting Standards and Self-Sacrifice were the most prevalent in both groups. Unrelenting Standards was endorsed by 47.5% of the ME/CFS group and by 25% of the non-clinical group at a level of' clinical caseness', whilst the percentage of people that endorsed the Self-Sacrifice schema was similar in each group; 27.5% of the ME/CFS group endorsed this schema and 25% of the non-clinical group. There were significant correlations between the schemas Unrelenting Standards and Self- Sacrifice; age and the schema Social Isolation; qualifications and the schema Self- Sacrifice also current employment and the schema Unrelenting Standards. The qualitative study, which involved 13 people with ME/CFS, adopted a Grounded Theory approach influenced mainly by the works of Glaser, (1978, 1998, 2011) and Charmaz (1995, 2007). The core category generated from the data was termed 'obscuring', and conceptualised the manner in which early maladaptive schemas and the coping style 'surrender to the schema' obscured the needs of individuals with throughout the therapeutic process. The number of early maladaptive schemas reduced once depression had been treated, whilst the schemas Unrelenting Standards and Self-sacrifice remained at a level of 'clinical caseness' at the end of therapy, although their scores on Young et al. 's Schema Questionnaire (YSQ S-3) had decreased. The qualitative study and case study gave an insight into the complexity of early maladaptive schemas in relation to the illness, giving real life meaning to the quantitative findings and together the three studies increased the credibility of the theory that emerged from the qualitative analysis. Taken together the studies have implications for the Cognitive Behavioural model of ME/CFS (Surawy et al. 1995). It is proposed that early maladaptive schemas have relevance for the model at the predisposing and perpetuating levels; that the theoretical codes 'compelling', 'curtailing' and 'compassionating', derived from the grounded theory analysis, are evident at these levels; and that the model might benefit from the inclusion of the terms 'unhelpful emotional responses' and 'psychological rewards'. The research not only supports clinical observations, but also contributes to cognitive and behavioural theory and therapeutic interventions for ME/CFS, helping to deepen understanding of the role that early maladaptive schemas have in this disabling and unpredictable illness. Recommendations are made for clinical practice and future research.
|early maladaptive schemas; Myalgic encephalomyalitis /Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS); critical realist perspective.
|University of Derby
|Web address (URL)
|Publication process dates
|13 Feb 2014, 15:03
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