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If proposals for the social integration of people with mental illness are to be taken seriously, then a reshaping of society's attitudes is essential. In particular, we need to learn to understand and engage with them not simply in the vocabulary of difference', but more especially in the vocabulary of membership'. Here, the experiences of a group of people, with a history of schizophrenic illness, are traced across a number of themes which include housing, poverty, stigma, medication, psychiatric services in the community, and the meaning of madness. The stubborn reality of mental illness remains all too evident but at the same time, these ex-mental patients teach us about the obstacles and constraints we put in their way in social life. From the Mental Patient to the Person addresses fully the contemporary debate about the community care of people who are mentally ill. Very little is known about the impact of current policies on the people who are their direct recipients. Traditionally, the subject of mental illness has been shrouded in secrecy and, even today, it is difficult for the voice of the ex-mental patient to secure a hearing.
The authors stress the need for open dialogue between people with mental illness and society, and they show how new forms of partnerships can be brought about between the former and those who care for them.