by Tom Pyle
Psychiatric Rehabilitation Second Edition. By Carlos W. Pratt, Kenneth J. Gill, Nora M. Barrett & Melissa M. Roberts. 440 pp. Academic Press. 2007.
I’m a parent to a young adult son with schizophrenia. Like so many others in my position, I have been navigating the maelstrom of mental disability. Tossing about on such turbulent seas, I have been hankering for a safe harbor of understanding from which I can chart a more productive course. I have found it in Psychiatric Rehabilitation, a wonderful textbook by Carlos Pratt and his team at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, one of the few schools which actually teaches this subject at a graduate level. (Boston University and University of Illinois at Chicago are the other two.)
Psychiatric rehabilitation is a relatively new field within mental health. Originated by early adopters like William Anthony of Boston University and Robert Drake of Dartmouth Medical School, psychiatric rehabilitation proposes to turn the traditional concepts of mental illness on their heads. No longer are we talking illness and disability. We are now all about wellness and recovery. This makes perfect sense. As a cancer survivor myself, I appreciate the affirmative tone that this book projects… confidence… autonomy… VICTORY over affliction! The old thinking is about disability, illness, limits, constraints, restraints, disability… The new thinking, so well embodied in Pratt et al.’s fine text, is about empowerment, hope, recovery, POSSIBILITIES!
Psychiatric Rehabilitation describes it all well. For a loved one of someone with a mental illness, this book is a godsend. It speaks of the wonderful potentialities for all mentally afflicted to create a better life for themselves in their recoveries. All recoveries will differ. All depend on the individuals experiencing them. Families also play a critical role. The beauty of this book is its laying out so lucidly all the possible elements of a holistic recovery, supported employment, supported education, and supported housing, just to mention three.
Never would I wish a mental illness on anyone. My son’s PACT director says that mental illness is an ailment worse than cancer. At least with cancer there is a definitive end. I don’t go that far. My son’s mental illness, I tell my incredulous friends, has in some ways actually been a blessing. I have come to learn first-hand of the significant trauma that many loved ones navigating this maelstrom experience for themselves. The blessing is in the bonding with all of them. It is part of the spirit that Psychiatric Rehabilitation embraces.
This text lays out cogently, simply, articulately all the aspects of recovery available to our disabled. Its plain and direct explanations can help the afflicted and their loved ones alike to see ahead a better future. Psychiatric Rehabilitation, both this text and the movement it describes, is all about positive empowerment. More power to Carlos Pratt, Ken Gill, Nora Barrett, and Melissa Roberts, with thanks from this layman for this fine canonical text!