Challenges to the modernist identity of psychiatry! User empowerment and recovery

In K. W. M. Fulford (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry. Oxford University Press. pp. 123 (2013)
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This chapter argues that the modernist agenda, currently dominant in mainstream psychiatry, serves as a disempowering force for service users. By structuring the world of mental health according to a technological logic, this agenda is usually seen as promoting a liberation from "myths" about mental illness that led to stigma and oppression in the past. However, it is argued that this approach systematically separates mental distress from background contextual issues and sidelines non-technological aspects of mental health such as relationships, values, and meanings. This move privileges the gaze of the expert doctor who is trained to understand distress in terms of psychopathology. But, as this move empowers the doctor, it disempowers the service user. In part this is because the priorities of modernist psychiatry are generally at odds with the interests and concerns of services users, particularly those who see themselves as survivors of the mental health system. The chapter examines the implications of this for the psychiatrist's role in working with survivors towards recovery.



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