"’Recovery’ as Concept, Model, and Movement in the Mental Health Field: the Challenge of Writing a ‘History of the Present’"
Friday, January 26, 2018 - 3:35pm
155 Nicholson Hall
Nancy Tomes
Department of History
Stony Brook University

Since the 1980s, the recovery concept has become central to efforts to empower people with severe and persistent mental illness.  Advocates of the recovery model stress the importance of non-medical measures, such as supported employment, supported housing, strong community networks and perhaps most importantly, the support and leadership of other people with lived experience of mental illness.  My talk will explore both the history and the historiography of the recovery model in the mental health field.  I will discuss how the approaches that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s differed from previous attempts at “after care” for ex-mental patients, and look at their overlap with contemporary developments in addiction treatment and the disability rights movement.  Finally, I will discuss criticisms of the recovery movement and its place in late 20th c. “reforms” of the welfare state as an example of how historical scholarship intersects with contemporary advocacy concerns and policy issues.