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Meaning and recovery 

Meaning and recovery
Meaning and recovery
Postpsychiatry: Mental health in a postmodern world

Patrick Bracken

and Philip Thomas


Chapter 7’s critical approach to narrative is directly relevant to the notion of ‘recovery’ that we expound in Chapter 8. Recovery is a buzz word at the moment. We believe that, in general, the recovery movement is a very positive development. Essentially it involves professionals and service users working together in a spirit of hope. It involves people seeking different ways of moving forward, different ways of establishing a life independent of services and labels. However, across America and, to a lesser extent, in Britain, so-called experts in recovery are developing ‘recovery training packages’. We are deeply sceptical at this turning of recovery into a commodity, to be marketed, sold and turned into profit. Instead, we look to some recent qualitative studies of recovery, most of which have relied on the methodology of service user-led research, or have been undertaken from a service user perspective. We summarize some of the principal relevant findings. This leads conveniently to the final perspective on recovery. In Chapter 7, we argued that we should not consider narrative apart from its ethical and moral dimensions. We apply this principle to recovery, with reference to Susan Brison’s book Aftermath. This is a powerful and moving account of her personal experiences of recovery from a life-threatening sexual assault. One of many important themes to emerge from her writing is the idea of recovery as a moral process. We consider the implications of her ideas for our own engagement with suffering, as doctors.

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