Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Chris Heavey

Second Committee Member

Russell Hurlburt

Third Committee Member

David Copeland

Fourth Committee Member

Joel Lieberman

Number of Pages



The diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD) provide a description of expected experiences of individuals diagnosed with those disorders (e.g., sadness, expansive mood, difficulty concentrating). However, much remains unknown about the inner experience of individuals with these disorders which may prove crucial in understanding and treating these disorders. The present study examined the inner experience of three individuals with MDD and three individuals with BD using the Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES) method (Hurlburt 1990, 1993, 2011). Results were not suggestive of any clear, consistent patterns of inner experience either within the MDD or BD groups or across the two groups of mood disordered individuals. However, five out of six participants had difficulties with capturing and conveying their inner experience and seemed to have a deficit of clear experiences, particularly thinking and feelings. Our participants had few clear inner seeings, feelings, unsymbolized thinking, and almost no inner speaking. One participant seemed distinctly different from the other participants in that he had inner seeing in 100% of his sampled moments that were complex and very detailed, though aspects of these inner seeings were not fully integrated.


Bipolar Disorder; Depression; Depression; Mental; Descriptive Experience Sampling; Experience; Introspection; Manic-depressive illness


Counseling Psychology | Mental and Social Health | Psychology