Recovery, paternalism and narrative understanding in mental healthcare

Thornton, Tim orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0137-1554 (2017) Recovery, paternalism and narrative understanding in mental healthcare. In: Healthcare and Culture Subjectivity in Medical Contexts. Advances in Cultural Psychology: Constructing Human Development . Information Age Publishing (IAP), Charlotte, N.C. ISBN 9781681236445

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There has been a growing emphasis on the idea that recovery in mental healthcare should not be seen as a matter of getting better but instead of successfully living a flourishing life as conceived by the subject herself. Theorists of recovery also stress the importance of narrative understanding for articulating the sort of life that would count as recovery. But surely one of the threats of mental illness is that it can undermine a subject’s autonomy and hence capacity to author a suitable narrative for recovery? Addressing this worry raises the threat of paternalism. Having sketched an abstract model of recovery and compared it to the capabilities model of Sen and Nussbaum, this chapter outlines a minimal account of narrative understanding drawn from Peter Goldie’s book The Mess Inside can address the worry of paternalism.

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