Life Story Narratives of Adults with Intellectual Disability and Mental Health Problems: Personal Identity, Quality of Life and Future Orientation

Hefziba Lifshitz, Ayelet Shahar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The narrative is a functional skill and a means for sharing stories which consist of a single event or events causally related to the individual's past, present, and future. In this study we aimed to explore the narratives of a voiceless population in society and in research: adults with a dual diagnosis of intellectual disability (ID) and a mental health problem (MHP). Our operative goals were to explore the meaning of their lives as people with a dual diagnosis, their quality of life, and their aspirations for the future. The core questions of the study were: which type of disability is assimilated in their identity: ID, MHP, or both? What is their perception regarding their quality of life in the present and their horizon for the future? Our study was based on the three functions (the directive personal identity, a social function, and a directive/problem-solving function) of the Autobiographical Memory Model. We analyzed semi-structured interviews of twelve adults (aged 31-60) with mild-moderate ID and an MHP using mixed qualitative and quantitative methods. The findings yielded four themes: personal identity, directive problem-solving function, current quality of life, and future orientation. Wilcoxon analysis indicated that the MHP is more prominent in the participants' personal identities. Thus, people with a dual diagnosis cannot bear the burden of two disabilities. The medical staff still exhibits a medical approach. Social theories such as the Multidimensional Insight Model, Stigma Theory, the Social Inclusion Model, and the Future Time Perspective Theory can serve as explanations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2839-2870
Number of pages32
JournalQualitative Report
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author expresses here deep appreciation to the twelve students with ID and MHP who participated in this study.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022: Hefziba Lifshitz, Ayelet Shahar, and Nova Southeastern University


  • future orientation
  • identity
  • intellectual disability
  • life stories
  • mental health problem
  • mixed-methods
  • persons with a dual diagnosis
  • quality of life


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