© 2001

Taking Over the Asylum

Empowerment and Mental Health

  • Authors
  • Drawing on the writings of activists and the authors' ongoing research, this book provides a unique analysis of action in the area of mental health
    Key issues are examined such as the impact of gendered and racist assumptions within the user movement
    Both authors are highly regarded and well respected in mental health research

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Marian Barnes, Ric Bowl
    Pages 1-25
  3. Marian Barnes, Ric Bowl
    Pages 26-45
  4. Marian Barnes, Ric Bowl
    Pages 46-67
  5. Marian Barnes, Ric Bowl
    Pages 68-93
  6. Marian Barnes, Ric Bowl
    Pages 94-116
  7. Marian Barnes, Ric Bowl
    Pages 117-133
  8. Marian Barnes, Ric Bowl
    Pages 134-152
  9. Marian Barnes, Ric Bowl
    Pages 153-166
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 167-196

About this book


One of the most critical developments within `welfare' in recent years, has been the transformation of service users from `passive recipients' to `active subjects' of welfare policy and practice. People who use services have challenged paternalistic notions that professionals are always the experts, and have offered alternative analyses both of the experience of living with disability or illness, and of policy and practice responses to such experiences.

Taking Over the Asylum explores the way in which users or survivors of mental health services - people too often regarded as `lacking capacity' to make decisions about their own care - have taken action to empower themselves. The authors examine evidence of the impact this action has had on their lives, on services, and on practice in mental health. They argue that disempowerment can be exacerbated by racist and gendered assumptions and they question the way we think about `mental health' and `mental illness' and what it means to live with `madness'.

Drawing on the writings of activists and on international research evidence of action by users and survivors, this important book explores different strategies being adopted to achieve change both within the mental health system and in the lives of those who live with psychological distress. The wide-ranging analysis of current debates provides a valuable and clear insight into the potential and dilemmas of collective action by service users and survivors.


empowerment gender health health services research stress

About the authors

MARIAN BARNES is Director of Social Research in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of Birmingham. Over the last 12 years she has worked extensively on user involvement and user self-organisation in the context of health and social care. She is a member of the national Health Action Zone evaluation team, focusing on community involvement, and is leading a project on public participation and social exclusion in the ESRC's Democracy and Participation research programme.

RIC BOWL is Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Birmingham. Much of his work has focused on developing involvement of users in a number of different public services, including older users of day centres and their carers, adult education students and the clients of social work teams. He is responsible for two Approved Social Worker training programmes and is engaged in extending the contribution of service users to the management, monitoring and delivery of Approved Social Worker training.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Taking Over the Asylum
  • Book Subtitle Empowerment and Mental Health
  • Authors Marian Barnes
    Ric Bowl
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2001
  • Publisher Name Palgrave, London
  • eBook Packages Medicine Medicine (R0)
  • Softcover ISBN 978-0-333-74091-0
  • eBook ISBN 978-0-230-80188-2
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XI, 196
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Additional Information Previously published under the imprint Palgrave
  • Topics Nursing
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
Industry Sectors
Health & Hospitals