AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences: “Changing Psychiatry or Changing Society? The Motion for the Rights of the “Mentally Ill” in Greece, 1980-1990,” Despo Kritsotaki. Abstract:
In 1980, the first formal association of mental patients, their relatives, and mental health professionals was founded in Athens, Greece. The Motion for the Rights of the “Mentally Ill” proposed a total restructuring of mental health care and a novel conceptualization of mental illness. On the one hand, it demanded that the mental health system be based on open services, psychotherapy, and on patients’ active participation in all decisions concerning their treatment and life. On the other hand, it conceptualized mental illness as a political issue that concerned all. Thus, the Motion viewed the promotion of the rights of the mentally ill as part of a broader project of cultivating conscious, active, and collective citizenship. This paper traces the Motion’s history during the 1980s, showing that it was shaped by both the socio-political conditions of Greece in the post-dictatorship period, a time of intense politicization, and by the legacy of mental patient activism in the Western world during the 1970s and 1980s. It argues that, although the Motion had a limited long-term impact, it represented the mental patient movement in Greece as it furthered the latter’s main features, most importantly its twofold endeavor to change not only the mental health system and the attitudes towards mental illness, but also society.