Thesis ID: CBB575040905

Confronting the Power of Psychiatry: The Psychiatric Survivors' Movement, 1972-1986 (2018)


This thesis explores the history of the mental patients’ liberation movement in the 1970s-1980s. It shows how psychiatric survivors successfully contested the power and legitimacy of psychiatry via mutual support and self-help; activism as a grassroots social movement; and the creation of alternate conceptions of madness and patient-controlled alternatives to the mental health system. Ex-patients utilized their distinct knowledge to make the personal political, moving beyond the critiques of anti-psychiatrists, to fight psychiatric abuses such as electroshock and forced drugging. It covers the movement’s tactics, most successful local and national activism, and cross-movement alliances – especially its anti-incarceration work with the prisoners’ rights movement. It offers a nuanced understanding of the tensions that led to the movement’s fracturing, and argues that activists adapted by retaining a “tempered liberation focus” that enabled them to work towards change and human rights within the psychiatric system while remaining true to their original liberatory goals.

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Authors & Contributors
Taylor, Barbara
Sammet, Kai
Shorter, Edward
Healy, David
Hilton, Claire
Murray, Heather Michelle
Sudhoffs Archiv: Zeitschrift fuer Wissenschaftsgeschichte
History of Psychiatry
Journal of American Culture
Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin Canadienne d'Histoire de la Medecine
Medizinhistorisches Journal
Medical History
Rutgers University Press
Harvard University
Edizioni ETS
Franz Steiner Verlag
Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Mental disorders and diseases
Psychiatric hospitals
Therapeutic practice; therapy; treatment
Electroconvulsive therapy; electroshock therapy
Human rights
Griesinger, Wilhelm
Rosenhan, David
Time Periods
20th century, late
20th century
21st century
19th century
20th century, early
Great Britain
United States
Berlin (Germany)
Hamburg (Germany)

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