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Ageing with disabilityA lifecourse perspective$
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Eva Grassman and Anna Whitaker

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781447305224

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447305224.001.0001

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Being one's illness: On mental disability and ageing

Being one's illness: On mental disability and ageing

Chapter:
(p.73) Five Being one's illness: On mental disability and ageing
Source:
Ageing with disability
Author(s):

Per Bülow

Tommy Svensson

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447305224.003.0005

This chapter discusses mental disability and ageing. It is based on life-story interviews with older people who have long personal experience of mental disability and of psychiatric care. The analysis reveals how the mental illness tended to become the pivot on which almost everything else in life turns throughout the lifecourse. Growing old to these mentally disabled people appeared to differ radically from “normal” ageing. The interpretations made by the informants entailed neither the qualitative down-grading suggested by the “decline ideology” of old age, nor the positive experiences proposed by “the ideology of successful ageing”. The chapter shows how the stigmatized social role of the mentally disabled seems so strongly internalised by the informants that it overshadows and outweighs other roles connected with the transition into old age. In the light of the informants' reflections on their lives, the authors discuss the extensive changes in society's way of organising care and treatment of mental illness.

Keywords:   Mental disability, Life-story interviews, Stigma, Social role, Ideologies of ageing, Psychiatric care

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