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J Health Soc Behav. 2001 Mar;42(1):64-79.

Modeling processes in recovery from mental illness: relationships between symptoms, life satisfaction, and self-concept.

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  • 1Department of Sociology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115, USA.


For persons with severe mental illness, controlling symptoms, regaining a positive sense of self, dealing with stigma and discrimination, and trying to lead a productive and satisfying life is increasingly referred to as the ongoing process of recovery. Drawing on psychiatric-medical and stress-social support models, and theories of self-concept and stigma, this study examines social-psychological processes in recovery from mental illness. Using longitudinal questionnaire data from 610 persons in self-help groups and outpatient treatment, 1 estimate a series of models of the relationships between key elements identified as part of the recovery process: symptoms, self-concept, and life satisfaction. The results show that these elements affect each other in a reciprocal manner. Moreover, findings indicate a key role for self-esteem, which mediates the effect of life satisfaction on symptoms. The study suggests a general framework for examining processes involved in recovery from mental illness.

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