This paper describes the lifeworld of one individual, Ann, in an attempt to elucidate the existential impact of early stage multiple sclerosis. Drawing on Ann's own reflections captured in a relatively unstructured interview, I construct a narrative around her first year of living with the diagnosis. Then, existential-phenomenological analysis reveals how Ann's life - lived in and through a particular body and lifeworld context - is disrupted. The unity between her body and self can no longer be taken for granted. The existential possibilities inherent in her lived body are diminished and have to be renegotiated. Her sense of identity, project, relations with others and present/future plans are threatened. Ann's illness is encountered in the context of her life activities and relationships. This is the intertwining of body, self and world. To live with multiple sclerosis is to experience a global sense of disorder - a disorder which incorporates a changed relation with one's body, a transformation in the surrounding world, a threat to the self, and a change in one's relation to others.
This article explores the nature of "the phenomenological attitude," which is understood as the process of retaining a wonder and openness to the world while reflexively restraining pre-understandings, as it applies to psychological research. A brief history identifies key philosphical ideas outlining Husserl's formulation of the reductions and subsequent existential-hermeneutic elaborations, and how these have been applied in empirical psychological research. Then three concrete descriptions of engaging the phenomenological attitude are offered, highlighting the way the epoché of the natural sciences, the psychological phenomenological reduction and the eidetic reduction can be applied during research interviews. Reflections on the impact and value of the researcher's stance show that these reductions can be intertwined with reflexivity and that, in this process, something of a dance occurs—a tango in which the researcher twists and glides through a series of improvised steps. In a context of tension and contradictory motions, the researcher slides between striving for reductive focus and reflexive self-awareness; between bracketing pre-understandings and exploiting them as a source of insight. Caught up in the dance, researchers must wage a continuous, iterative struggle to become aware of, and then manage, pre-understandings and habitualities that inevitably linger. Persistance will reward the researcher with special, if fleeting, moments of disclosure in which the phenomenon reveals something of itself in a fresh way.