Including Our Self In Struggle
Challenging the neo-liberal psycho-system’s subversion of us, our ideas and action
This article takes as its starting point the author’s personal perspective and long term personal experience as survivor and activist/researcher to explore the ways in which the alliance of neo-liberal ideology and the psychiatric system has resisted the impact of mental health service users’/survivors’ activism and instead sought to co-opt and subvert its language, ideas and initiatives. Drawing on the author’s perspective, it looks first at how this has happened in relation to the language of mental health, exploring specific terminology. Then it examines how this has happened in relation to key ideas associated with survivors’ collective action, including self-management, peer support and recovery. It show how ‘our’ ideas have been reconstituted to serve neo-liberal ideological goals. Thirdly it looks at how survivors’ innovations have been obstructed and taken over instead by the dominant bio-medical paradigm. Finally it traces the way in which survivor knowledge has similarly been obstructed and appropriated. The article ends with discussion of ‘two beacons of hope’; the emergence of Mad Studies and ‘Gap-mending’ which offer the possibility of challenging neo-liberal dominance and emphasises the need to support and safeguard these developing opportunities.