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The Social Organization of Mental Illness

The Social Organization of Mental Illness

August 1993 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
This thought-provoking book examines the organization of medical and social services for people with serious psychiatric disorders. It focuses on the current transition from hospital-centred to community-centred services.

The first part of the book concentrates on the changes which have occurred in the theory and practice of key groups of professionals, including psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists and psychologists. The second part describes how those changes have directly impinged on the everyday lives of people affected by psychiatric disorders. Prior demonstrates how sociological insights can be gained from an examination of the multiple ways in which disorders have been represented in and through the work of diverse groups of psychiatric professionals.

Social Representations and Social Worlds

Changing Images of the Psychiatric Hospital
The Diverse Objects of Psychiatric Theory
Networks of Professional Practice
Representations of Psychiatric Disorder in the Community
Representations of Psychiatric Disorder in the Family
The Social Worlds of the Hospital
The Social Worlds of the Community
Representations of Mental Illness


`Seeks to construct a distinctive and novel sociological argument around the shift to community care in mental health.... Prior has many fascinating and insightful things to say about the influence of changing professional ideologies on the shift from hospital to community. I think that he shows convincingly how frutiful such analysis is to understanding the "social organisation of psychiatry".... undoubtedly essential reading' - Medical Sociology News

`Lindsay Prior offers a stimulating and fundamentally sociological twist to this literature... The argument is provocative, and offers a fresh vision in a long-standing debate.... Perhaps the most interesting feature of this book is the frame it provides for thinking about the recent community experiences of the deinstitutionalized mentally ill.... This is clearly an important book for sociologists interested in the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill and the history of psychiatry' - Contemporary Sociology

`The author carefully develops the theme to demonstrate in a coherent text the ways in which social representations of mental illness have been constructed in recent times and what we have done with what we have constructed.... The whole is coherent and well-argued... The topic is an important one and there is a need for much careful thought about our headlong rush into community psychiatry.... This book makes a significant contribution to understanding our new tasks' - Journal of Mental Health

`Prior supports his overarching argument with a meticulous examination of the relevant literature. What might otherwise have been a rather dry text is given context and brought to life through reference to interview and conversational data from the research in which the book originated...I have little doubt that his book will prove valuable to academics in a variety of fields. For sociologists in particular it has three strengths. Firstly, it provides an interesting and highly topical illustration of the insights to be gained from the study of social organization; secondly, it makes an illuminating contribution to the soicology of mental illness itself; and thirdly, the comprehensive literature review which underpins each chapter makes it a useful reference source. Equally, the book provides a resource for academics involved in the education and training of any of the professional groups who work with people suffering from mental disorders' - Sociology of Mental Illness

`Prior offers a comprehensive review of historical and sociological sources and has produced an important work that adds a fresh perspective on the changing social organization of psychiatric illness' - Choice

`Lindsay Prior has produced another lucid and scholarly book... his argument is accessible to all readers with a serious interest in the contemporary transformation of our psychiatric institutions and practices.' - Michael Bloor, University of Wales, Cardiff

`In a rare combination of empirical precision and theoretical brilliance, Prior shows how sociological analysis can shed a fascinating light on the vital practical question of community care in the context of mental illness. This outstanding book is simply essential reading for anybody concerned with these subjects.' - David Silverman, Goldsmiths College, University of London

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