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Mental Health Consumers, Social Justice and the Historical Antecedents of Oppression

Orovwuje, Palmer Reg
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) In Anthony J. W. Taylor, ed., Justice as a Basic Human Need. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc. Pp. 95-111.

“People suffering from mental disability and mental illness are among the most disadvantaged groups in society. They suffer severe personal and distress, and they are stigmatized, discriminated against, marginalized, and often left vulnerable. They are denied civil, political, and social rights, and are treated less than fairly in legal procedures, clinical practice, and institutional management. Consumers themselves in recovery have likened their plight to those of other oppressed minority groups.
This paper illustrates the theme, and argues that the ‘demonisation’ of the mentally ill does not have its foundations in the early days of primitive superstition, so much as in the more recent period of European Enlightenment and the Age of Reason. It suggests that the change of intellectual climate brought socio-political measures of exclusion that made social justice virtually unattainable for people with mental illness. But it also points to the emergence of strong family and mental health support groups, together with the relatively recent recognition of human rights for all, and some aspects of consumerism, that collectively have brought a change of response from bureaucrats and health professionals that is beginning to redress the wrongs. It exemplifies the thesis that justice is indeed a basic human need that no person should be denied.” (excerpt)


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