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Living Outside Mental Illness

Qualitative Studies of Recovery in Schizophrenia

Larry Davidson

Publication Year: 2003

Schizophrenia is widely considered the most severe and disabling of the mental illnesses. Yet recent research has demonstrated that many people afflicted with the disorder are able to recover to a significant degree.

Living Outside Mental Illness demonstrates the importance of listening to what people diagnosed with schizophrenia themselves have to say about their struggle, and shows the dramatic effect this approach can have on clinical practice and social policy. It presents an in-depth investigation, based on a phenomenological perspective, of experiences of illness and recovery as illuminated by compelling first-person descriptions.

This volume forcefully makes the case for the utility of qualitative methods in improving our understanding of the reasons for the success or failure of mental health services. The research has important clinical and policy implications, and will be of key interest to those in psychology and the helping professions as well as to people in recovery and their families.

Published by: NYU Press

Front Cover

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pp. i

Title Page, Copyright


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pp. viii

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pp. ix-x

Let’s say you were living with a large group who, a couple of generations earlier, had made a very difficult journey west across a huge plain. They had had to develop from nothing the means of making that journey. Now, all of you are there at the edge of the mountains where they had settled. Some have made journeys into the mountain passes but never very far. You, on the other hand,...

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pp. xi-xii

If writing this book has been gratifying, it is even more gratifying to be able to thank all those people without whom it would not have come to exist. First and foremost, of course, are the hundred plus people who have had first-hand experience of schizophrenia and who have been our teachers. Their courage and resilience in the face of adversity provide us with a constant source of...

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pp. 1-30

From a moral-practical standpoint, I am treating a human being as a mere thing if I do not take him [sic] as a person. . . . Likewise, I am not treating a human being as a subject of rights if I do not take him [sic] as a member of a community founded on law, to which we both belong. —Edmund Husserl, Ideas II IF YOU HAVE PICKED UP THIS BOOK long enough to glance at this page...

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1. Is There an Outside to Mental Illness?

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pp. 31-60

What is needed is not the insistence that one see with his [sic] own eyes; rather it is that he [sic] not explain away under the pressure of prejudice what has been seen. —Edmund Husserl, Philosophy as Rigorous Science HOW, THEN, TO BEGIN? By articulating what it is that we are interested in learning more about through our investigation. We may have framed our primary...

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2. Eliciting Narratives

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pp. 61-92

Suppose a mountain has gold and no one is allowed to mine it anymore; the water will bring it to light, the water which reaches into the silence of stone, it does the wanting. —Rainer Maria Rilke, Das Stundenbuch... WE WANT TO LEARN MORE about the ways in which people with schizophrenia may influence the course and outcome of the disorder and decided to do so by interviewing people who are currently living with the...

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3. Understanding Narratives

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pp. 93-125

In the sphere of the human sciences . . . to say that [psychologists] “explain” human-scientific facts means that they want to clarify motivations, to make intelligible how the people in question “came to do it,” came to behave in such and such a way, which influences they underwent and which ones they themselves exercised, what it was that determined them in and toward...

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4. Living Inside Schizophrenia

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pp. 126-158

Even in conditions so far removed from the reality of the external world as hallucinatory confusional states, one learns from patients after their recovery that at the time, in some corner of their minds, as they express it, there was a normal person hidden, who watched the hubbub of the illness go past, like a disinterested spectator. —Sigmund Freud, An Outline of Psychoanalysis WE HAVE COLLECTED OUR MAPS, filled our backpacks with supplies and our...

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5. Living Outside Schizophrenia

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pp. 159-198

I’m nobody till somebody loves me. That’s the way I look at it. —Man with schizophrenia speaking with interviewer IF WE HAVE PAINTED a vivid enough picture of the downward spiral that appears to unfold inexorably, and to lead thereby to the end-state of premature dementia first described by Kraepelin, then you should be left wondering how, or even if, recovery is possible...

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pp. 199-209

The concept of recovery is rooted in the simple yet profound realization that people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness are [and remain] human beings. —Patricia Deegan, Ph.D., psychologist, spokesperson, advocate, and person diagnosed with schizophrenia WHAT HAVE WE NOW LEARNED from our phenomenological analysis of first-person accounts of living with schizophrenia, and what implications do these...

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pp. 210-211

We began this investigation with the question: “How do the person’s experiences and activities affect processes of recovery in schizophrenia?” Our qualitative analysis indicated that experiences of being stigmatized and/or rejected by others, as well as those of failing at efforts to accomplish normative life tasks, make recovery more difficult. Being accepted and valued by...

Works Cited

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pp. 213-224


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pp. 225-227

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About the Author

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pp. 228

Larry Davidson, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry of the Yale University School of Medicine, where he serves as Director of Behavioral Health Policy and Research; Director of the Program on Poverty, Disability, and Urban Health of the Connecticut Mental Health Center and Yale University Institution for Social and Policy Studies;...

E-ISBN-13: 9780814785355
E-ISBN-10: 0814785352
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814719428
Print-ISBN-10: 0814719422

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2003