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Title: Turning towards recovery? : a study of personal narratives of mental health crisis and breakdown
Author: Wallcraft, Janet Louisa
Awarding Body: London South Bank University
Current Institution: London South Bank University
Date of Award: 2002
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This is a qualitative study in which twenty seven people who had experienced a mental health crisis or breakdown and received psychiatric treatment were interviewed in depth. The interviews were carried out in 1996 and 1998, and were tape recorded and transcribed, then analysed using grounded theory and narrative methods. The narratives were compared to an extended version of the Caplan (1964) Crisis Theory, i.e. that crises are likely to be psychosocial in origin, and to go through identifiable stages and turning points towards health and recovery or long term mental patient status. The extended Caplan model was found helpful in analysing crisis narratives. Most people did go through identifiable phases of crisis, and turning points could be observed where treatment and intervention had helped or caused further upset and damage. In most cases, people did relate their crises to life events, even where they had ultimately come to accept that they had a mental illness. Categories of crisis experience emerging from this study are proposed as an alternative to diagnosis. Most people sought a place of safety during crisis, and wanted professional care or an opportunity to shed responsibility for a time, but in many cases the lack of appropriate help appeared to be a major factor in subsequent crises and the adoption of a mental patient identity. Social class was a factor in accessing good crisis care, but impacted little on crisis aftermath, where most people felt they had had unsatisfactory care. Most had suffered loss of social status and opportunities for work and independence, though many had found strategies to cope with their lives through involvement with community groups, finding enjoyable activities and working to help others or campaign for changes in the system. It is suggested that more research of this kind could help to address the problems of existing crisis services based on the discourse of psychopathology and begin to develop more appropriate services for prevention and crisis care with a greater emphasis on psychosocial factors, self-advocacy, good listening, and community support.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available