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Madness, distress and the politics of disablement$
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Helen Spandler, Helen Spandler, Jill Anderson, and Bob Sapey

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781447314578

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447314578.001.0001

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The Capabilities Approach and the social model of mental health

The Capabilities Approach and the social model of mental health

(p.83) Six The Capabilities Approach and the social model of mental health
Madness, distress and the politics of disablement

Jan Wallcraft

Kim Hopper

Policy Press

This chapter outlines the Capabilities Approach, developed by Amartya Sen in the 1980s as a more empowering, less paternalistic approach to welfare economics. It argues that, applied to mental distress, the Capabilities Approach offers a conceptual framework which service users, survivors and allies need to mount a serious challenge to the dominance of the medical model. That is because it supplies what is usually missing in even expanded medical models (like the biopsychosocial model) – a profound understanding of structural constraints and enablements as they relate to individual agency. Focusing on recovery from ‘schizophrenia’ and early intervention in psychosis, the chapter demonstrates how the Capabilities approach might be applied, concluding that it represents an important framework for strengthening links between the social model of disability and mental health.

Keywords:   capabilities approach, Amartya Sen, mental distress, survivors, medical model, biopsychosocial model, recovery, schizophrenia, early intervention

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