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 Illnessdemonstrates 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.
Qualitative research in the social sciences involves the use of methodologies that seek a more holistic view of its subjects, using participant observation, textual interpretation, or, in this case, open-ended interviews. Many mental health experts would deny that schizophrenics could usefully participate in such interviews, because their illness leads to the inability (and lack of desire) to interact with others. However, Davidson (psychiatry, Yale) and his colleagues have conducted a number of interviews with long-term residents of state mental hospitals during their transition to community living. It was found that the interviewees wanted to build friendships and were generally well aware of their illness and its social consequences-both contrary to perceived psychiatric wisdom. While the second half of the book is devoted to these findings, the first half is a methodological discourse on the underpinnings of narrative technique, based on the work of philosopher Edmund Husserl. Philosophers and students of research methodology will be interested in this part of the book, while those who are directly involved with mental health patients are the natural audience for the second half. For academic subject collections.-Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, WA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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New York University Press
July 31, 2003
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