Beacon Press: Fighting for Recovery
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Fighting for Recovery

An Activists' History of Mental Health Reform

Author: Phyllis Vine

An essential history of the recovery movement for people with mental illness, and an inspiring account of how former patients and advocates challenged a flawed system and encouraged mental health activism

This definitive people’s history of the recovery movement spans the 1970s to the present day and proves to readers just how essential mental health activism is to every person in this country, whether you have a current psychiatric diagnosis or not.

In Fighting for Recovery, professor and mental health advocate Phyllis Vine tells the history of the former psychiatric patients, families, and courageous activists who formed a patients’ liberation movement that challenged medical authority and proved to the world that recovery from mental illness is possible.

Mental health discussions have become more common in everyday life, but there are still enormous numbers of people with psychiatric illness in jails and prisons or who are experiencing homelessness—proving there is still progress to be made.

This is a book for you

A friend or family member of someone with serious psychiatric diagnoses, to understand the history of mental health reform

A person struggling with their own diagnoses, to learn how other patients have advocated for themselves

An activist in the peer-services network: social workers, psychologists, and peer counselors, to advocate for change in the treatment of psychiatric patients at the institutional and individual levels

A policy maker, clinical psychologist, psychiatric resident, or scholar who wants to become familiar with the social histories of mental illness
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“In this essential history, Phyllis Vine recounts the long movement for liberation and recovery of people with mental illness and those who’ve led this imperative and incredible work.”
—Karla J. Strand, Ms.

“As I spoke with historian and journalist Phyllis Vine, I kept thinking of Howard Zinn . . . In true Zinn-ian fashion, Vine’s book doesn’t hesitate to rip a beloved American leader down from a pedestal in order to relay the facts.”
—Matthew Rozsa, Salon

“[A] must-read . . . for anyone who wants to understand how the mental health field has developed and where it must go in the future.”
—Ron Manderscheid, National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors

Fighting for Recovery offers an inspiring reminder of all that it has taken to move mental health policy and public understanding from a view of permanent disability, illness, isolation, and marginalization to one of wellness, recovery, self-determination, and community success. Its historic sweep details the development of our movement over decades and provides a vivid reminder that the fight for recovery and rights requires us to stay vigilant.”
—Harvey Rosenthal, CEO, New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services

Fighting for Recovery is an astonishing narrative of the effort to undo centuries of mistreatment of people struggling to recover from serious psychiatric struggles and disabilities. Vine captures the incredible fights, skirmishes, and out-and-out war between the players (ex-patients, families, the psychiatric establishment, other clinicians, the NIMH, legislators, presidential commissions, and scientists) over the past seventy years. Full of stories, and written in a crisp and clear fashion, it sets the reader right in the middle of the fracas. This is a one-of-a-kind guide for understanding the complex fight to create healing and caring environments, and a clarion call for the next generations to finish the job.”
—Dr. Courtenay Harding, former director, Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery at the Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies

“Phyllis Vine has assembled a long-overdue history of the mental health rights movement in America that is both poignant and scholarly. As this story makes clear, mental health reformers, starting with the patients themselves, have waged a furious struggle for decades just to earn a seat at the table. Real change, including the widespread adoption of models of care that promote hope and recovery, is a cause that continues today. Fighting for Recovery is a singular accomplishment and a clear-eyed guide for anyone who aspires to understand why we have the mental health system we have and how to repair it.”
—Steve Coe, former CEO of Community Access

“As the daughter of a father who suffered from schizophrenia, I lived the challenges that Phyllis Vine documents so vividly in Fighting for Recovery. Treated with a variety of electroshock treatments and pills, he found his recovery was more dream than reality. With the passage of fifty years, Vine’s book finally gives me hope.”
—Arlene Notoro Morgan, assistant dean, Klein College of Media and Communications at Temple University, and advisory member, Rosalynn Carter Journalism Fellowship on Mental Health

“Phyllis Vine maintains that crisis, whether real or concocted, tends to drive policy in terms of the interface of the mental health and criminal justice systems. She takes us behind the scenes to explore the possibility of recovery for people with mental illness in our society from the 1960s to the present day, identifying key court cases, policy makers, and activists, and illuminating, with compelling examples, the impact that former consumers of mental health services have had and continue to have on destigmatizing mental illness. The current mental health system in America is in shambles. Now, Vine concludes, is the time to act.”
—Risdon N. Slate, author of The Criminalization of Mental Illness

Fighting for Recovery is a groundbreaking history of the mental health recovery movement in America. It covers both the family advocacy movement and, more importantly, the consumer/ex-patient/survivor movement, from its beginnings with the Mental Patients Liberation advocacy work of the early 1970s through today’s peer-support and advocacy organizations, which now provide services in most of the country. I highly recommended it to anyone interested in the mental health recovery movement in America.”
—Mike Finkle, founder and former executive director, On Our Own of Maryland

“The subtitle condenses the promise of this book: a bracing account by both committed activist and seasoned social historian, Fighting for Recovery is a textual double for the story it tells. Underscore struggle: messy, divisive, unresolved, leaving wreckage in its wake. The roster includes players of various stripes (clinicians, families, bureaucrats, service users/refusers, researchers, even venture capitalists), pitting power politics against street theatre, professional defensiveness against first-person testimony, and even (on rare occasion) discussing relevant research. You may have wondered why ‘psychiatry has been slow to adopt recovery programs.’ That verdict (coming after more than three hundred pages of painstakingly documented history) will be less mysterious—but not one iota less sad—to any reader of what came before it. The epilogue, a brave coda in its own right, brings the story up to date with shout-outs to promising changes in policing and prisons . . . and a weary, final call for action.”
—Kim J. Hopper, author of Reckoning with Homelessness

Dramatis Personae
Acronyms and Abbreviations
A Note on Language

BJ’s Story


Tear ’Em Down

“Nothing About Us Without Us”

Building Opportunities for Community Care

Because of Our Sons

A First Lady’s Law


With Blinders On

Finding a Strategic Vision

This Is America’s Shame

The Gentlemen from Kentucky

Dueling Diagnoses

The Soul’s Frail Dwelling House

The Clozapine Story—Risk-Benefit or Risky Benefits


Building a Village

Leadership in the Service of Peers

Stand on Cue

The Impracticalities of the Situation

A Vintage Year

Recovery and Wellness

A Note on Sources

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Fighting for Recovery

ISBN: 978-080701334-2
Publication Date: 9/26/2023
Size:6 x 9 Inches (US)
Price:  $23.95
Format: Paperback
Availability: In stock.
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