A Fragile Revolution: Consumers and Psychiatric Survivors Confront the Power of the Mental Health System

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Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, Jun 16, 2000 - Medical - 251 pages
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Despite two centuries and three major reform movements, mental patients have remained on the outside of the mainstream of society, often living in poverty and violence. Today we are undergoing yet another period of reform and, in a historical first, ex-mental patients, now calling themselves consumers and psychiatric survivors, have been recruited in record numbers by the Ontario government to participate in the change process.

A Fragile Revolution investigates the complex relationship between ex-mental patients, the government, the mental health system, and mental health professionals. It also explores how the recent changes in policy have affected that relationship, creating new tensions and new opportunities.

Using qualitative interviews with prominent consumer and survivor activists, Everett examines how consumers and survivors define themselves, how they define mental illness, and how their personal experience has been translated into political action.

While it is clear that consumers and survivors have affected the rhetoric of reform, they know that words do not equal action. As they struggle to develop their own separate advocacy agenda, they acknowledge that theirs is a fragile revolution, but one that is here to stay.

 

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Contents

Chapter 1 Nothing changes and no one gets better
7
Chapter 2 From insanity to mental illness to psychiatric disability
23
Chapter 3 Power and protest
41
Chapter 4 A new power contract?
63
Chapter 5 A special bond
79
Chapter 6 Them
109
Chapter 7 Us
135
Chapter 8 Partnership
163
Chapter 9 What do consumers and survivors believe in?
185
Chapter 10 Final thoughts and understandings
205
Postscript
219
Appendix I Research methodology
227
References
235
Index
249
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About the author (2000)

Barbara Everett has worked in both hospital and community mental health services in a variety of professional roles, from social work to senior manager. Her clinical focus has been the provision of psychotherapy for people suffering from complex posttraumatic stress disorder. She presently works as a consultant providing services such as clinical skills development workshops, clinical consultation and supervision, as well as program developmnet and evaluation.

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