The impact of illness identity on recovery from severe mental illness

Philip T. Yanos, David Roe, Paul H. Lysaker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The impact of the experience and diagnosis of mental illness on one's identity has long been recognized; however, little is known about the impact of illness identity, which we define as the set of roles and attitudes that a person has developed in relation to his or her understanding of having a mental illness. The present article proposes a theoretically driven model of the impact of illness identity on the course and recovery from severe mental illness and reviews relevant research. We propose that accepting a definition of oneself as mentally ill and assuming that mental illness means incompetence and inadequacy impact hope and self-esteem, which further impact suicide risk, coping, social interaction, vocational functioning, and symptom severity. Evidence supports most of the predictions made by the model. Implications for psychiatric rehabilitation services are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-93
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Institute of Mental Health grant R34-MH082161. Address correspondence to Philip T. Yanos, PhD, Associate Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, Psychology Department, 445 W 59th St., New York, NY 10019, USA. E-mail:


  • Identity
  • Recovery
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of illness identity on recovery from severe mental illness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this