The story of the former patients and mental health care activists who created the recovery movement for people with a psychiatric diagnosis, from the 1970s to present day.

Product Code: 3179
ISBN: 9780807079614
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Beacon
Pages: 352
Published Date: 09/27/2022
Availability:In stock
Price: $36.95

Conventional wisdom says that people with a serious psychiatric diagnosis are doomed to a dreary future. But in the 1970s, a number of former psychiatric patients rebelled against this vision and formed a mental patients liberation movement that would stretch the nation, challenge medical authority, and align with anti-war, civil rights, and women’s movements. Their rally cry: recovery was possible. Out of the abyss of chaos, dejection and hopelessness, came activism.

They started as an anti-psychiatry movement. Treatments had failed in the community because people like them, who society had once exiled, had been stuck in systems unresponsive to promoting rehabilitation and social integration. At the core of their movement were questions of power. How was it allocated and to whom? Who designed and defined services? And who would be served?

To drive change these ex-patients challenged other advocates: families, social service agencies, legal and medical professionals, and research psychiatrists. They fought to reform outdated state and federal laws and programs. Within 2 decades, they had created a liberation movement that advocated for self-help and peer service in local communities, and claimed recovery and rehabilitation were possible.

Recovery, for ex-patients, is a process of reclaiming a measure of authority over their own lives, by having active discussions about what’s essential to sustaining them while they achieve their goals. But recovery of any kind was thought to be incompatible with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or serious depressions in the 1970s. Tracing scientific and medical discoveries along with the activist movement, Fighting for Recovery shows that by the end of the century, this idea had begun to change even within the psychiatric establishment. Now psychiatric disorders were considered to be heterogeneous, not unitary and homogeneous. New drugs showed that symptoms once thought to be intractable were not, and research confirmed what the activists had long maintained: ex-patients helping one another to resume successful community living was the most successful model. Taken together, the accumulation of three thousand scientific studies led a surgeon general to conclude that recovery was possible. In 1999, a federal report to the nation by Surgeon General David Satcher said that treatments worked. The determination of activists, he said, had forced the world to open its eyes.

But knowing what needs to be done for people with a psychiatric challenge to recover is different from doing it. Noting the vast numbers of people of psychiatric illness in jails, prisons, on the streets, or simply underserved, Fighting for Recovery demands that we use the knowledge we have to dismantle programs built on flawed and outdated assumptions and provide services where none exist.

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Part One: Setting the Stage
1. Tear ‘Em Down
2. “Nothing About Us Without Us”
3. Building Opportunities for Community Care
4. Because of Our Sons
5. A First Lady’s Law

Part Two: Meeting the Challenges
6. Fighting with Blinders On
7. Cooperate or Confront
8. America’s Shame
9. The Gentlemen from Kentucky
10. Dueling Diagnosis
11. The Soul’s Frail Dwelling House
12. The Clozapine Story

Part Three: Solutions
13. A Village
14. Peer Leadership
15. Stand on Cue
16. Impracticalities
17. A Vintage Year


“Hardly ever does a single text so capably conjoin the personal with both policy and practice in mental health care. Through the lens of her own family’s experience with mental illness, Phyllis Vine illuminates key problems and achievements in mental health care over the past half century, while simultaneously giving the reader a detailed view of the development and evolution of the consumer movement and peer support. The results of her efforts are must-reading for anyone who wants to understand how the mental health field has developed and where it must go in the future.” —Ron Manderscheid, former president/CEO, National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors and the National Association for Rural Mental Health

“Phyllis Vine has assembled a long-overdue history of the mental health rights movement in America that is both poignant and scholarly. As this story makes clear, mental health reformers, starting with the patients themselves, have waged a furious struggle for decades just to earn a seat at the table. Real change, including wide-spread adoption of models of care that promote hope and recovery, is a cause that continues today. Fighting for Recovery is a singular accomplishment and a clear-eyed guide for anyone who aspires to understand why we have the mental health system we have and how to repair it.” —Steve Coe, former CEO of Community Access

“As the daughter of a father who suffered from schizophrenia, I lived the challenges that Phyllis Vine documents so vividly in Fighting for Recovery. Treated with a variety of electroshock treatments and pills, his recovery was more dream than reality. With the passage of fifty years, Vine’s book finally gives me hope.” —Arlene Notoro Morgan, assistant dean, Klein College of Media and Communications at Temple University, and advisory member, Rosalynn Carter Journalism Fellowship on Mental Health

Fighting for Recovery offers an inspiring reminder of all that it has taken to move mental health policy and public understanding from a view of permanent disability, illness, isolation, and marginalization to one of wellness, recovery, self-determination, and community success. Its historic sweep details the development of our movement over decades and provides a vivid reminder that the fight for recovery and rights requires us to stay vigilant.” —Harvey Rosenthal, CEO, New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services

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