Recovery from versus recovery in serious mental illness: One strategy for lessening confusion plaguing recovery

Larry Davidson, David Roe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: There is an increasing global commitment to recovery as the expectation for people with mental illness. There remains, however, little consensus on what recovery means in relation to mental illness. Aims: To contribute to current efforts to tease apart the various aspects of recovery appearing in the psychiatric literature by describing two conceptualizations of recovery from and recovery in mental illness. Method: Review of empirical literature on recovery and use of the term in clinical and rehabilitative practice. Results: Two potentially complementary meanings of recovery were identified. The first meaning of recovery from mental illness derives from over 30 years of longitudinal clinical research, which has shown that improvement is just as common, if not more so, than progressive deterioration. The second meaning of recovery in derives from the Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Movement, and refers instead to a person's rights to self-determination and inclusion in community life despite continuing to suffer from mental illness. Conclusions: The implications for practice of each of these concepts of recovery, as well as for that group of individuals for which neither concepts may apply, are discussed. Declaration of interest: None.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-470
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Civil rights
  • Outcome
  • Recovery
  • Self-determination
  • Social inclusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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