Surviving Mental Illness : Stress, Coping, and Adaptation book cover
1st Edition

Surviving Mental Illness
Stress, Coping, and Adaptation

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ISBN 9780898620221
Published July 23, 1993 by Guilford Press
206 Pages

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Book Description

In this era of revolutionary progress in the areas of science and medicine, it comes as no surprise that knowledge of the biology of mental illness and psychopharmacologic treatments has increased greatly within the past few decades. During this same time frame, however, the experiential side of mental illness has been almost completely neglected by researchers and educators. Fortunately, the trend is being reversed. Leading authorities are becoming increasingly aware that the personal experiences of people with severe and persistent mental illness can reveal the most authentic--and perhaps most helpful--information on behaviors that have long puzzled professionals in the field. This has contributed to a renewed and growing interest in learning more about the ways people experience mental illness and the process of recovery.
Leading the way in redressing the imbalance, this book examines the subjective experiences of patients with multiple diagnoses, including schizophrenia, bipolar illness, major endogenous depression, and other disorders with psychotic features and long-term disabling consequences. Numerous personal accounts are drawn from research reports, newsletters, journals, spoken reports, and observed behavior to shed light on the inner worlds of people afflicted with severe and persistent mental illness.
The volume covers a wide range of topics, starting with disturbances in the sense of self, in emotions, relationships, and behaviors, and in the ways reality is experienced by the mentally ill. In the process, some common patterns of lifetime experience are revealed even among patients with great differences in levels of functional capability and in their emotional and rational assessment of their experience.
The final section of the book is directed toward understanding the process of acceptance, growth toward recovery, and the development of an acceptable identity and new purpose in life.
Material is presented within the conceptual framework of coping and adaptation and self theory; in addition, considerable attention is given to the patient's perception of which types of personal and professional relationships have been helpful or not helpful. As a result, the book yields important lessons--from the patients themselves--on how service providers, caregivers, and the community at large can be most helpful to those afflicted with major mental illness.
Professionals who wish to increase their capacity for empathy, develop more effective rehabilitation strategies, and advance research linking brain anomalies and patient experience will find this book illuminating. Because it illustrates in moving and powerful ways how people truly experience psychiatric disability in a society that demeans their condition and in a helping environment that only dimly understands their agony, the book will be extremely useful for psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, educators, and graduate students in psychopathology and clinical skills training.

Table of Contents

The Personal Side of Mental Illness. A Conceptual Basis for Understanding Patients' Behavior: The Case of Schizophrenia. HOW PATIENTS EXPERIENCE PSYCHOSIS. Disturbances of the Self. Disturbances in Cognition. Disturbances in Emotions, Relationships, and Behaviors. Cruising the Cosmos, Part Three: Psychosis and Hospitalization - A Consumer's Personal Recollection, Frederick J. Frese, III, Ph.D.HOW PATIENTS EXPERIENCE THE INTERPERSONAL ENVIRONMENT. Patients' Perceptions of Families. Patients' Perceptions of Professional and the Service Provider System. Community Acceptance and Self-Perception. The Interpersonal Environment - A Consumer's Personal Recollection, Esso Leete. HOW PATIENTS EXPERIENCE THE RECOVERY PROCESS. Events Leading to Recovery. Developing and Acceptable Identity and New Purposes in Life. Learning How to Manage the Illness and Avoid Relapse. Life on the Ledge: My Recovery from a Major Mental Illness - A Consumer's Personal Recollection, Daniel Link, M.S.W. LESSONS LEARNED FROM CONSUMERS. 15. Summary, Conclusions, and Implications. References. Index.

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Agnes B. Hatfield, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland. Founding member and third president of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), she currently serves as Family Education Specialist at that organization. She has served as Director of the Maryland Family Education Program for the Maryland Department of Mental Hygiene since 1982. Author of FAMILY EDUCATION IN MENTAL ILLNESS and numerous articles and book chapters, she is co-editor with Harriet Lefley of FAMILIES OF THE MENTALLY ILL: COPING AND ADAPTATION.


I needed a supplement to Abnormal Psych Textbook to make subject matter come to life. --Jacqueline Santoro, Ph.D., Ithaca College

Hatfield and Lefley have given us a unique and superb rendering of the patient's experience suffering from schizophrenia. The book encompasses both scholarly reviews of the literature and scientific analyses of experiences as well as practical advice on how to respond to patients when they are psychotic and how patients can attempt to avoid relapse.

The combination of professional exposition and first-person accounts is especially effective. Perhaps the most novel are the chapters dealing with the sufferer's experience with the helpless onslaught of thinking disorders and emotional turmoil. --John A. Talbott, M.D., University of Maryland at Baltimore

A very valuable book for those who treat mental illness, those who suffer from it, and their families. --H. Richard Lamb, M.D., University of Southern California

Surviving Mental Illness is another ground-breaking book by Hatfield and Lefley. This time they focus on the persons who suffer from schizophrenia rather than on their families.... Across all of their writing, they focus on the people who cope, adapt, and achieve competence rather than on psychopathology.

The book provides new perspectives (phenomenology, stress, coping, and attribution) for theorists to construct their theories, a new approach for clinicians to build their craft (the use of multiple first-person accounts), and a new arena for psychological research (the human person who has the disorder rather than a disease without personhood).

The book is based on the value of respect for those who struggle with these disorders. It places the person as the focus center of theory, research and service. If this weighting of the person impacts researchers and service providers, it will have served its purpose.

Because a number of my graduate students are working in these areas, Dr. Hatfield was kind enough to lend an early copy of the manuscript to my students. I have never seen such a commotion about a book. Students formed a waitlist to read it, and passed it to one another as though it were some sacred but forbidden text.

The book is rich with implications for theory and research, and filled with practical insights and suggestions.

This is a wonderful book for faculty and students to gain real-life perspectives and insight into people with serious mental illnesses. The material would enrich any course in psychopathology and treatment. Its unique perspectives balance the frequently remote, often incorrect, and only tangentially informative theories about the people who suffer from schizophrenia that is usually found in abnormal psychology textbooks. --Robert D. Coursey, Ph.D., University of Maryland
First-person accounts of what Hatfield and Lefley call the subjective side, or the inner experience, of severe mental illness....A valuable contribution.
--Contemporary Psychology, 5/24/1993ƒƒ
This book is a must for all who are engaged in the care and treatment of the seriously mentally ill.
--Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 5/24/1993