What does the term ‘recovery’ mean? I have seen with the psychiatric establishment, that if a person conforms, accepts their oppression, and agrees to being a life long consumer of toxic drugs, holds mediocre employment (if that), they are said to be recovered. And the premise is that they have a dysfunctional brain that requires the lifelong intervention of psychiatry. This runs completely counter to my experience. I recall a study in Kings County, NY where of 900 of those involved in the mental health system, only 5, yes 5, had viable employment, yet many were said to be ‘recovered. Because something can be scientifically validated does not mean it is ethical or good. One could validate many coercive practices. We must enter the realm where we realize that mental health is highly dependent upon our response to issues of social justice. Science must be linked with a strong sense of ethics and respect for the dignity and liberty of persons. Ethics must always proceed technology. Psychiatrists have often completely misunderstood what the term recovery really means. It does not mean being a lifelong consumer of toxic psychiatric drugs. The psychiatric establishment’s idea of recovery is based on suppression which leads to oppression. Recovery involves understanding the oppressive systems that has led one to develop ways of living in an unlivable situation. Recovery involves journeying into our common human experience. Recovery involves coming from that point of breakdown, to a point of breakthrough by understanding the dynamics which one has reacted to. Recovery involves a restoration of meaning and purpose to those who may have become lost along the way. Recovery involves compassion and acceptance. Recovery involves pain, but transforming that pain where we can share our experience with others. Recovery involves our willingness to listen to the other, to be with the other, to decipher metaphorical language. Recovery involves an awakening. Recovery involves society’s response to those events and problems which lead people to distress. Recovery involves understanding. It is a beautiful process requiring time, reflection, sharing, and compassion.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.