Contrasting conceptualizations of recovery imply a distinct research methodology

Kenneth Gill

in Recovery of People with Mental Illness

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199691319
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754791 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

Contrasting conceptualizations of recovery imply a distinct research methodology

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This chapter argues that there are a number of contrasting views of recovery from serious mental illness. One possible view conceives of recovery solely from an idiographic perspective—that is, each individual's personal journey. This perspective on recovery as personal experience is understood as meaningful to an individual, but is also understood as not necessarily generalizable to others. Thus, according to this viewpoint, recovery is best understood from a phenomenological perspective. A contrasting view conceives of recovery from a more nomothetic perspective, not solely an individual's experience, but as measurable processes that are applicable to individuals with similar characteristics in similar circumstances. Thus an understanding of recovery can be derived by traditional methods of empirical inquiry. Of course, these two archetypal views may in fact be contrasting views of the same phenomena. Nevertheless, given contrasting epistemological views of recovery, distinct research methods are necessary. A solely phenomenological approach suggests that qualitative methods, such as personal narrative analysis, are most useful. A traditional empirical approach might seek to establish the presence of steps or stages, validated by multiple raters or convergent measures. One methodology that potentially integrates both approaches is participatory action research. Driven primarily by the premise that the participants who are the object of the study data should participate in every step of the research, from the conceptualization of the problem to interpretation of the findings, participatory action research may be particularly suited to the subject matter of recovery. This chapter reviews the contrasting methodological approaches and their application to the study of recovery. Examples of research studies that illustrate each of the approaches will be reviewed. In instances where relevant examples are not available from the literature, a program of future research will be outlined to illustrate the implications of that perspective.

Chapter.  6493 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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