Recovering our Stories: A Small Act of Resistance

“Abstract: This paper describes a community event organized in response to the appropriation and overreliance on the psychiatric patient “personal story.” The sharing of experiences through stories by individuals who self identify as having “lived experience” has been central to the history of organizing for change in and outside of the psychiatric system. However, in the last decade, personal stories have increasingly been used by the psychiatric system to bolster research, education, and fundraising interests. We explore how personal stories from consumer/survivors have been harnessed by mental health organizations to further their interests and in so doing have shifted these narrations from “agents of change” towards one of “disability tourism” or “patient porn.” We mark the ethical dilemmas of narrative cooptation and consumption and query how stories of resistance can be reclaimed not as personal recovery narratives but rather as a tool for socio-political change”

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