UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

From the voices of experience, the road to recovery Carson, Joanna Patricia


The individualization and medicalization of the emotional distress of those given psychiatric diagnoses deny the social, political, and economic context in which the presenting behaviours arose and leads away from making changes to society. Some people who are psychiatrically labelled join in groups for solidarity in the face of being stigmatized. In these groups the members can resist the disempowerment and helplessness learned in the psychiatric system. With co-researchers from a self-help group this study gives expression to the usually silenced voices of psychiatrized people. Feminist and standpoint theories, co-cultural and living systems theories form a framework for this narrative study. A structural narrative method is used to analyze the stories, found in the transcripts of six individual interviews, told by the co-researchers about their experiences in psychiatric services and in the recovery process. The stories reveal how the ideology and practices of psychiatry use stigma, oppression and the creation of the identity of psychiatric patient for control and management. The stories also reveal the reality of hope for recovery through the support of peers and from the role models of those who have significantly recovered their mental health. Two focus group interviews were conducted with members of the self-help group where suggestions for programs were developed to address issues raised within the groups and in the individual interviews. The findings of the research will be reported to the self-help group who will use the study to back proposals for the funding of recovery-oriented programs. When social workers and other mental health professsionals recognize the importance of supporting the process of recovery, consumer/survivor-run programs will be acknowledged as effective and integral parts of any mental health system

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