Storytelling Beyond the Psychiatric Gaze
Resisting resilience and recovery narratives
This paper explores the politics of resilience and recovery narratives by bringing critical ethnography and auto-ethnographic methods to bear on my own experiences with storytelling distress in different contexts. Inviting people with lived experience to share their stories is now common practice in education, mental health, and broader community venues. Yet even when the intent of the stories shared are to offer systemic critique of mental health epistemes, it is difficult to hear such stories beyond the psychiatric gaze. I argue that individual storytelling practices now get processed through resiliency and recovery metanarratives that continue to position both the problem and its potential solution at the level of individual bodies. By offering an account of my own experiences of storytelling, I explore the limits, risks, and productive functions of this practice. This includes how such narratives, in accumulation, can reify conceptions of the resilient and recovered subject and thus help solidify mental health truth regimes.