Accepted Paper:

has pdf download Re-imagining therapeutic relationships: mutual-help among 'Service Evader' activists in times of crisis  


Keira Pratt-Boyden (University of Kent)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores therapeutic relationships in an intentional mental health activist community influenced by anti-capitalism. Examining how 'Service Evaders' incorporate practices of care into their daily lives, this paper reveals how mental illness can be a site of social re-generation.

Paper long abstract:

The UK's mental health system is in crisis, with demand rising and services being retrenched. In this environment, mental health activists argue that health services cannot respond adequately to the complexity and variety of human distress and can no longer offer the reciprocal, continual relationships that they seek. This paper examines the dynamics of therapeutic relationships and supportive encounters in an intentional mental health activist community influenced by the global Occupy anti-capitalist movement. 'Service Evaders' maintain that wellbeing is secured through collective, non-clinical methods and mutual support such as living together and 'being alongside' each other in a crisis. Rejecting (dyadic) therapeutic relationships as unequal and individualising, they aim to incorporate care, support and reciprocity into the structures of every-day life. By examining their epistemologies, experiences and strategies, this paper highlights the value Service Evaders place on the relational and affective aspects of care and the capacity to sustain relationships in times of personal, social and economic crisis. In doing so, it reveals mental illness and vulnerability as potential conditions for personal transformation and social re-generation, rather than of social disruption.

Panel Med06
Hermeneutical injustice, clinical imagination and patient discontent in mental healthcare