Friday, March 21, 2008

"From advocacy to self-determinism"

Ronald Bassman has written a very interesting article about the history of mental health consumer/survivor (Bassman's term) activists, especially in this country. I know I won't do justice to the article, but I'd like to highlight a few points.

One of his themes in terms of recovery is the importance of treating the consumer/survivor with fairness and respect. That has sadly not been the history of the treatment of the mentally ill, especially in hospitals. The earliest activists were former patients who formed groups by telling their stories to one another and treating one another as whole people who mattered.
During the mid 1950's, State hospitals were still a mess: "Treatment programs were limited, wards were overcrowded, few recreational and social activities were available to patients, individual privacy was lacking, and recovery was not an expectation."

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