History of the Recovery Movement

 

"Dark Nights" by Vincent 

The concept of recovery can be traced back as far as 1830, when John Perceval, son of one of England’s prime ministers, wrote of his personal recovery from the psychosis that he experienced from 1830 until 1832, a recovery that he obtained despite the “treatment” he received from the “lunatic” doctors who attended him. His remarkable experiences are chronicled in the book Perceval's Experience.

In 1881, researchers at Massachusetts’ Worcester Asylum for the Insane learned about recovery when they surveyed 1,157 people who had been discharged dating back to 1840. Of the patients who were discharged as “recovered,” 58 percent remained well for the remainder of their lives. The idea of recovery in the United States is also closely connected to the recovery movement in the substance abuse field, particularly with Alcoholics Anonymous, which began in the 1930s as a fellowship of people focused on sobriety.

The normal process of recovery was often stilted in the United States throughout the 1940s and 1950s as state hospitals sought more to confine patients than to help them recover. Even throughout the years of deinstitutionalization that began in the 1970s, people with mental health disorders were frequently told that they would likely get worse and even lose their jobs and their friends. Despite these falsehoods, people with mental health disorders have continued to believe in themselves and in one another and to help one another recover. The Consumer/Survivor Movement of the 1980s and 1990s brought the recovery model to the forefront and inspired change throughout the mental health system. These grassroots advocates modeled recovery themselves and effectively argued for change. By 2002 the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health paved the way for a systemwide paradigm shift. As a result, quality mental health service systems today embrace a recovery model.

Click here to view a copy of the 2002 President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health Report.

 

Click here for a thorough article on the Consumer/Survivor Movement