Definitions of Recovery

What is Recovery?

Flowers, by MK

William Anthony, executive director of the Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, wrote that recovery is “a deeply personal, unique process of changing one’s attitudes, values, feelings, goals, skills and/or roles. It is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life even with limitations caused by the illness. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one’s life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effects of mental illness.”

 One well-known writer on recovery is Pat Deegan, a clinical psychologist who was first diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teen. In 1996, Pat Deegan spoke at the Sixth Annual Mental Health Services Conference of Australia and New Zealand about “Recovery and the Conspiracy of Hope.” She states, “The concept of recovery differs from that of rehabilitation in as much as it emphasizes that people are responsible for their own lives and that we can take a stand toward our disability and what is distressing to us. We need not be passive victims. We need not be ‘afflicted.’ We can become responsible agents in our own recovery process. Recovery often involves a transformation of the self wherein one both accepts ones limitation and discovers a new world of possibility. This is the paradox of recovery, i.e., that in accepting what we cannot do or be, we begin to discover who we can be and what we can do. Thus, recovery is a process. It is a way of life.” The entire speech can be read here: