New Directions In The Sociology Of Health (Explorations in Sociology)

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Deborah Carr » Sociology | Boston University

That is, the survival of the invalidation from the psychosocial forces that was the source of the mental distress, as well as the survival of the discrimination and oppression from the psychiatric services and the wider society Pilgrim and Rogers The goal is of becoming more deeply, more fully human Deegan The following definition of recovery has been guiding this study: Mental health recovery is a journey of healing and transformation for a person with a mental health disability to be able to live a meaningful life in communities of his or her choice while striving to achieve full human potential or personhood.

However, we believe that a theoretical framework drawn from British disability studies and the use of the terms oppression and discrimination is more fruitful in contrast to stigma theory which are often applied to mental distress.

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Consistent with this view we have studied the impacts of oppression on the grounds of mental distress and gender in the recovery process and when so doing we have used a British disability studies perspective, as it is outlined by Thomas. Disablism is social-relational in character and constitutes a form of social oppression in contemporary society —alongside sexism, racism, ageism and homophobia.

In addition to being enacted in person-to-person interactions, disablism may manifest itself in institutionalized and other socio-structural forms. Thomas , Emphasis in original. Furthermore, according to Thomas the forms and impacts of disablism are also refracted in some ways through the prism of gender relations and gendered locations.

Since our aim in this paper is to understand and describe an experiential social process, a quantitative approach would not be suitable for this particular study. Thus this is a piece of qualitative research; a qualitative methodology has been used. The findings presented here are based on qualitative in-depth interviews that the first author conducted in Gothenburg, Sweden, and Oxford, UK, during the year — The first author transcribed the interviews recordings verbatim, and also carried out the translation from Swedish to English.

The interviews were recorded with the permission by the participants and written informed consent was obtained. However, the informed consent was viewed as an ongoing process, and research participants could withdraw at any time up until publication of results. The names of the participants in this presentation have been changed, and personal characteristics have been de-identified. Before the study began, ethical approval from relevant authorities in the UK and Sweden was obtained.

However, it is important to note that the findings are based on 17 women and 16 men, whose ages were fairly evenly distributed through the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s and from a variety of socio-economic, family, and educational background. Furthermore, they all self-defined as having experience of long-term mental distress and recovery. A couple of participants had experiences of living in a different country before moving to the UK or Sweden, thus we had some participants who had experienced being in an ethnic minority.

When it came to sexual preference one woman openly identified as lesbian. The analytical method used in this study was framework analysis. The framework approach is a matrix-based method. It involves constructing thematic categories into which the data can be coded Ritchie and Spencer, Dixon-Woods , 1. The benefit of doing so is that it enables issues and questions identified in advance to be explicitly and systematically considered in the analysis. But it also allows enough flexibility to detect and characterize issues that emerge from the data Dixon-Woods This method might be classified as an abductive approach, a kind of oscillating between deductive and inductive approaches.

This analytical method is an established and rigorous five-stage method for analysing qualitative data. First the researcher must immerse in the data, and making notes of for example recurrent themes and issues. Once the selected material has been reviewed, the researcher returns to the notes, and attempts to identify key issues, concepts, and themes.

New Directions in the Sociology of Health

Thus, the analyst sets up a draft thematic framework within which the material can be sifted and sorted Ritchie and Spencer, In the next stage, the indexing stage, the thematic framework is systematically applied to the data. In stage four the data are summarized in thematic charts and they are devised with headings and subheadings. In the final stage, mapping and interpretation stage, or synthesizing the data, the analyst maps, interprets and synthesizes the data through reviewing the charted data, comparing themes, and subthemes with each other Ritchie and Spencer, The main themes were created by drawing on earlier research and theories.

The subheadings to the main themes were inductively constructed in order to gain as much new data as possible and still being able to be rooted in the original data. All 33 participants gave accounts of what we would interpret as experiences of disablism Timander The issue here is the essentially medicalized nature of mental health policy and practice Beresford We argue that the notion of unreason, irrationality, and deviance which relates to experiences of mental distress and the active pathologization and criminalization of people with experience of mental distress in contemporary Western societies impacts the life of people who experience mental distress.

We will now show by using some narratives that the participants in this study were affected negatively by experiences of oppression, disablism. Some of these powerful narratives will now be displayed and described below. I must get back to the mainstream. I must get back to the main track.

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Judith: Well, you know, you are a manic person, you, you are not quite up to scratch. Possible, possible you are weak. You are somehow defective. You know what I mean? You kind of absorb all that.

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I wanted it to be known. It was a more negative thing. Some of the participants believed they would never recover. Peter, in his 60s, believed too that he would never recover. Peter: I do not think I ever will recover. As I said to you, things are different than years ago, than it is today. There is no recovery, it is something that, that is with you for the rest of your life.

There is no, there is no, what is the word. There is no light in the end of the tunnel. There is not one. I have known people to be depressed for 20 odd years, 30 years. There is no recovery, there is nothing like that. That is why I said to you, you got to take day by day.

Just to consider taking your tablets. According to Peter life was a tough struggle, and life was especially a tough struggle when experiencing mental distress. Martina: Yes it actually started with me deciding that I should act like I was cured. As I mentioned earlier, this with normal humans have reactions to certain experiences. I started to understand that I was not so sick that I believed I was. It became, it was like a self fulfilling prophecy to believe that I was so weird and strange, sort of sick. What you are saying does not matter, you are just saying it because you want to ease your conscience.

But I know that you are wrong. It is the same thing.

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This is not, it is not relevant for the situation, it is nothing. Yes, like that. Like a small piece of old thoughts, but it is tough. Because sometimes I get insecure as everybody else. How could I forgot it? Sven: Yes, during many years then, I was just sick. It was, the illness dominated and I just saw myself as sick, and nothing else, and not as someone without it. During that time I was given heavy medication of mentions a medication.

It was just, yes life was, I would say, just a grey sludge. I have gradually returned after this treatment, and to start to believe in myself more.

Read New Directions In The Sociology Of Health Explorations In Sociology No 36 1990

Arguably, he felt hopeless because of his sinister interpretation of the side effects and because of the negative subjective side effects which made him lose touch with his emotions and thoughts and lose his belief in himself and his capabilities. Whenever Andrew had been detained and sectioned when he had experienced mental distress crises, and on these occasions he had been picked up by the police.

Andrew: Whenever I have been detained under section , I have always been picked up by police officers. So you know I end up in hand cuffs; I end up going in to a police car.


Not because I have committed any crime, I am being detained for my own safety, and for the safety of others. So, I have actually not committed any crime. But I go through a criminal process. So, you know I am detained by police officers, I am hand cuffed, and I end up in a police car, taken to a police cell and kept in a police cell, my shoes are taken, my laces are taken, my belt is taken. You know, so by the time, invariably I am in there over the night, and mostly the next day.

Then somebody will come and assess you. And then I will be taken to a psychiatric hospital. So by the time I get to the hospital, I am already feeling inaudible , I am already feeling a lot worse.

My mental health has gotten a lot worse, because I have been detained by police officers and I have been kept in a police cell, you know. And I really, sometimes I can take it on. The nurses. So at the time I get to the psychiatric hospital, because I already have had 48 hours of custody, I am feeling even more obliterated and worse, than when I was picked up, if that makes sense? So by association you are seen as that. You know, somebody is walking around and looking in to the cells, and they are looking at criminals.

Because they are in cells, you know. So, you are treated like on and you begin to feel like one.