The Mentally Disabled in Public Spaces

<p>A psychology site reviews <em>Mental Health and Social Space: Towards Inclusionary Geographies</em>, a book by Hester Parr that looks at new ideas in including (or excluding) people with mental disabilities from public spaces.</p>
August 7, 2008, 8am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"In the post-institutional era of mental health care how are we to conceptualize "community care" and "the mental patient"? There are those who look back to the institutional era with a fond, usually rose-tinted, nostalgia; for others deinstitutionalization remains an ideal rather than a reality. The literature on psychiatry and mental illness shows increasing divergence. Even mainstream services have adopted "recovery" as a motif, there are new biological discourses, and for many people with mental illness, a forensic identity as either patient or criminal. The movement to community care has had limited success in dismantling the mental patient as different and other. Hester Parr's contribution to this issue uses the conceptual tools of geography to open up debate about the social space of the person with mental health problems, and in so doing to move beyond debate about "institutional spaces and enclosed medical identities" Mental Health and Social Space. Towards Inclusionary Geographies? re-examines the identity of people with mental illness, especially the transition "from inert non-citizen to valued and relational social agent."

Two theoretical chapters provide the background against which Parr reports empirical studies of mental health in various social spaces, with a final chapter looking forward to new ways of thinking and practice. The social spaces are widely divergent, ranging from rural villages of the Scottish Highlands to the Internet."

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Published on Tuesday, August 5, 2008 in
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