Naked in the eyes of the public: A phenomenological study of the lived experience of suffering from burnout while waiting for recognition to be ill


Publication date


Series/Report no

Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice;Volume 25, Issue 6, December 2019



Document type


Although there has been a focus on problematic issues related to health care services and complaints made by patients, individuals who suffer from medically unexplained syndromes continue to report being epistemically marginalized or excluded by health professionals. The aim of this article is to uncover a deeper understanding of the what‐ness of experiencing being naked in the eyes of the public while waiting to be recognized as ill. Therefore, a phenomenological approach was chosen to inductively and holistically understand the human experience in this context‐specific setting. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with two men and six women between 25 and 65 years of age, who had been on sick leave for more than 52 weeks. Their symptoms were consistent with Exhaustion Disorder (ICD‐10, F43.8A). The meaning of the interviewees' lived experience was explored using a life‐world approach to phenomenological reflection and writing. The participants described their experience of encountering the general practitioner as taking part in a battle. Feeling distrusted by others seemed to result in disconnection from their habitual life world, which in turn triggered a shame reaction. Additionally, the study showed a possible distrust related to several communication levels within the health care system, which influenced the recovery process negatively. Lack of experienced support can lead to exacerbated feelings of distress. Accordingly, the psychosocial experience of being ill might be as important as its unknown aetiology. Therefore, in the context of these interpersonal relations, both norms, values, and attitudes, and issues of power need to be considered and addressed properly.




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