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In: The Social Constructions and Experiences of Madness

A good way of making sense of madness, or more precisely of the lived experience of mental illness, is to transform this experience into a constructive asset for redefining citizenship and social inclusion. This chapter discusses the perspectives of a diverse group of persons in recovery from mental illnesses who were engaged as members of a Co-research Team to perform a series of focus groups with other research participants. The project was about developing a new measure of citizenship and social inclusion. The development of this measure was conducted through a Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR) design. CBPR is an approach to research that involves persons of primary interest in all aspects of the process. Co-learning, a strength-based approach, and acknowledgement of privilege and power are hallmarks of CBPR. A complementary focus group was held to discuss the benefits and challenges of being involved in this CBPR project, both personally and for the scientific community. Qualitative analysis points to ways that are helpful in maximising the engagement and inclusion of persons in recovery through the Co-research Team (CRT) and CBPR. Persons with the lived experience of recovery in mental health were fully included in all aspects of this project. This hermeneutic chapter aims to understand what CRT members think of CBPR in relation to themselves and to the scientific community as a whole.

In: 'And Then the Monsters Come Out': Madness, Language and Power
Over the course of the centuries the meanings around mental illness have shifted many times according to societal beliefs and the political atmosphere of the day. The way madness is defined has far reaching effects on those who have a mental disorder, and determines how they are treated by the professionals responsible for their care, and the society of which they are a part. Although madness as mental illness seems to be the dominant Western view of madness, it is by no means the only view of what it means to be ‘mad’. The symptoms of madness or mental illness occur in all cultures of the world, but have different meanings in different social and cultural contexts. Evidence suggests that meanings of mental illness have a significant impact on subjective experience; the idioms used in the expression thereof, indigenous treatments, and subsequent outcomes. Thus, the societal understandings of madness are central to the problem of mental illness and those with the lived experience can lead the process of reconstructing this meaning.
In: The Social Constructions and Experiences of Madness