Rethinking social recovery in schizophrenia: what a capabilities approach might offer

Soc Sci Med. 2007 Sep;65(5):868-79. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2007.04.012. Epub 2007 May 17.


Resurgent hopes for recovery from schizophrenia in the late 1980s had less to do with fresh empirical evidence than with focused political agitation. Recovery's promise was transformative: reworking traditional power relationships, conferring distinctive expertise on service users, rewriting the mandate of public mental health systems. Its institutional imprint has been considerably weaker. This article takes sympathetic measure of that outcome and provides an alternative framework for what recovery might mean, one drawn from disability studies and Sen's capabilities approach. By re-enfranchising agency, redressing material and symbolic disadvantage, raising the bar on fundamental entitlements and claiming institutional support for complex competencies, a capabilities approach could convert flaccid doctrine into useful guidelines and tools for public mental health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology
  • Disabled Persons / rehabilitation
  • Health Care Reform
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Schizophrenia / rehabilitation*
  • United States