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And then, I realized that for my recovery it was more important to help others Many people try to help themselves, and then help others, but my road was different.

I needed to help others. Vera was once, she continued, an "unruly mental patient" staging protests at her nursing home. She had been leading advocacy efforts for the past decade, and ultimately became a peer provider at Horizons, an urban psychosocial rehabilitation organization that served more than six thousand mental health service users that they called "members" in the local metropolitan area. With the support of Horizons, Vera recently had applied for and received a grant to run her own, peer-led treatment program, the Peer Empowerment Program — also known as PEP.


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On that particular day, Horizons CEO, Steve, had asked Vera to give a speech encouraging other members to seek organizational leadership roles. For Steve and the hundreds of members in the audience that day, Vera was an innovator, and a strong role model for recovery. PEP's radical, groundbreaking feature was that "peers" directed and offered the services — which Vera jested later, "let the lunatics run the asylum.

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Having peers direct one's care, advocates like Vera believed, was different from having the usual, college-educated "case managers" because "professionals" could never understand how it felt to receive a psychiatric diagnosis or experience symptoms. Peers, they argued, would be more willing to give a member control of their own lives because they had made their own choices and were now living "in recovery. Isaac was one such peer who provided mental health services to others under Vera's leadership at PEP. Isaac was a middle-aged, African American war veteran who struggled with the "dual diagnoses" of alcoholism and schizophrenia.

He had heard voices and experienced visions and thoughts inserted in his head that seemed foreign to him. Alcohol dulled his symptoms, and he became an alcoholic. During a low point, Isaac lost custody of his beloved child to his ex-wife and had to live in a nursing home.

The Ethics of Care

Then, one frigid night, Isaac escaped through a defunct fire exit and bought a bottle of Jack Daniels — his favorite. Shortly after he began to drink, Isaac collapsed. He nearly froze to death. Fortunately, a passerby found him and called the police. After being hospitalized for frostbite and liver problems, he entered another residential treatment program for people with dual diagnoses of serious mental illness and substance abuse.

Recovery's Edge | Item Detail | University Press | Vanderbilt University

Many people with serious psychiatric disabilities are offered these kinds of "revolving-door services," services that do not adequately help people recover and then open the door to let them back in again when they relapse. Isaac continued to be a revolving-door mental health service user until he attended a workshop at Horizons led by Priscilla Ridgway. Priscilla Ridgway is the author of the popular guide Pathways to Recovery In the book, she described herself as "an accidental mystic, a person with a traumatic brain injury and someone who has struggled with depression and 'PTSD,'" which gave her "the gift of greater depth of awareness.

He stayed sober and eventually moved into his own apartment, regained some custody of his child, and engaged in part-time work at Horizons as a peer mental health service provider. At one point during my research for this book, Isaac and I had the opportunity to see Priscilla Ridgway speak to a very large conference for peer leaders. She came on stage and began to speak but then stopped midsentence.

Book Review: Recovery’s Edge: An Ethnography of Mental Health Care and Moral Agency

He has transformed, I can see, and this is a wonderful moment. Isaac, you look wonderful, and it's so moving to see you out there. Obviously, you are doing really well in your quest for recovery. Isaac's story is not unusual. During the research for this book, I met many people who described themselves as "in recovery" from serious psychiatric diagnoses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They typically repudiated a biomedical focus on diagnoses, symptoms, and functioning, which they considered demeaning. No one appreciates being called "low-functioning" or "sick" or being told that they have an illness "worse than cancer," they told me.

I knew from my own experiences that this could be very frightening. When my own brother was first diagnosed with schizophrenia at a very young age, I had a terrible nightmare that he had swallowed nails. I knew they would tear him apart inside, and there was nothing I could do.

Our fear of a diagnosis of serious mental illness in American culture is very strong. The experience of mental illness can seriously disrupt a person's life narrative and our expectations for them. If this disruption continues unchecked, it can impair a person's sense that they can move forward, be accountable, and live a meaningful life. However, when I asked people in recovery about their lives, they spoke in invigorating ways about their extraordinary experiences. They talked about "transformation" and "healing" from "serious emotional distress" Deegan ; Fisher They had meaningful lives, jobs, and children.

I met authors, artists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and lawyers, all contributing members of their home communities, all in recovery from serious mental illness.

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In the research literature, "recovery" typically referred to a reduction in symptoms and a return to the life one might have been expected to lead if one had never become ill — or possibly even a better life. The Vermont Longitudinal Study, for example, showed that with some community-based supports, two-thirds of "chronic patients," continuously hospitalized for six years or more, could live independently in the community Harding, Zubin, and Strauss At least one-third of study participants returned to the same kind of life they had lived before, if not a better life.

In a complementary study, hospitalized patients who did not have positive supports had worse outcomes upon release into the community DeSisto et al. Another review of ten studies of recovery found up to one-third of subjects achieving a full recovery Davidson and McGlashan International research suggested similar findings, with some countries having higher rates of recovery than others, especially "non-Western" countries Calabrese and Corrigan ; Hopper b.

Such accounts pose difficult questions — if recovery is possible, how can we better promote recovery? People in recovery have been talking about this for decades. Books ship from California and Michigan. Orders usually ship within 2 business days. All books within the US ship free of charge. Delivery is business days anywhere in the United States. If your book order is heavy or oversized, we may contact you to let you know extra shipping is required.

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About this Item Hardcover. In the Bush Administration's New Freedom Commission asked mental health service providers to begin promoting recovery rather than churning out long-term, chronic mental health servic.