Award Date

December 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Christopher L. Heavey

Second Committee Member

Russell T. Hurlburt

Third Committee Member

Daniel L. Allen

Fourth Committee Member

Jennifer R. Keene

Number of Pages



Bipolar disorder (BD) is a serious, chronic mood disorder. The diagnostic criteria for BD provide a description of expected experiences of individuals with BD (e.g., sadness, expansive mood, inflated self-esteem, anhedonia). Despite these criteria, the details of inner experience of individuals with BD are generally unknown. Understanding the inner experience of individuals with BD may provide greater understanding of the lived experience of BD and may provide insights into treating BD. The present study examined the inner experience of six individuals with BD using Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES), a method aimed at apprehending high- fidelity accounts of momentary inner experience. Results revealed that our participants varied in their ability to have clear inner experience, but they had clear experiences of sensory awareness and/or inner seeing. They had a high frequency of no clear inner experience or inner experience that was unclear in some way in the moment. They also had a low frequency of the coherent experience of feelings. Lastly, four participants experienced noteworthy perceptual experiences at a higher than average frequency as compared to the inner experience of individuals without a psychiatric diagnosis. This study highlights the importance of increasing efforts to explore the inner experience of individuals diagnosed with BD and/or other mental illnesses, and the utility of the DES method for investigating these individuals’ inner experience.


Bipolar Disorder; Descriptive Experience Sampling; Inner Experience


Clinical Psychology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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