PHYLLIS VINE and SAM LAMOTT at Books Inc. Palo Alto

Books Inc. Palo Alto proudly welcomes author Phyllis Vine in conversation with Sam Lamott for an introduction to the timely book Fighting for Recovery! 

An essential history of the recovery movement for people with mental illness, and an inspiring account of how former patients and advocates challenged a flawed system and encouraged mental health activism

This definitive people's history of the recovery movement spans the 1970s to the present day and proves to readers just how essential mental health activism is to every person in this country, whether you have a current psychiatric diagnosis or not.

In Fighting for Recovery, professor and mental health advocate Phyllis Vine tells the history of the former psychiatric patients, families, and courageous activists who formed a patients' liberation movement that challenged medical authority and proved to the world that recovery from mental illness is possible.

Mental health discussions have become more common in everyday life, but there are still enormous numbers of people with psychiatric illness in jails and prisons or who are experiencing homelessness - proving there is still progress to be made.


"In this essential history, Phyllis Vine recounts the long movement for liberation and recovery of people with mental illness and those who've led this imperative and incredible work."
--Karla J. Strand, Ms.


"Hardly ever does a single text so capably conjoin the personal with both policy and practice in mental health care. Through the lens of her own family's experience with mental illness, Phyllis Vine illuminates key problems and achievements in mental health care over the past half century, while simultaneously giving the reader a detailed view of the development and evolution of the consumer movement and peer support. The results of her efforts are must-reading for anyone who wants to understand how the mental health field has developed and where it must go in the future."
--Ron Manderscheid, former president/CEO, National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors and the National Association for Rural Mental Health


"Phyllis Vine has assembled a long-overdue history of the mental health rights movement in America that is both poignant and scholarly. As this story makes clear, mental health reformers, starting with the patients themselves, have waged a furious struggle for decades just to earn a seat at the table. Real change, including wide-spread adoption of models of care that promote hope and recovery, is a cause that continues today. Fighting for Recovery is a singular accomplishment and a clear-eyed guide for anyone who aspires to understand why we have the mental health system we have and how to repair it."
--Steve Coe, former CEO of Community Access


"As the daughter of a father who suffered from schizophrenia, I lived the challenges that Phyllis Vine documents so vividly in Fighting for Recovery. Treated with a variety of electroshock treatments and pills, his recovery was more dream than reality. With the passage of fifty years, Vine's book finally gives me hope."
--Arlene Notoro Morgan, assistant dean, Klein College of Media and Communications at Temple University, and advisory member, Rosalynn Carter Journalism Fellowship on Mental Health


Fighting for Recovery offers an inspiring reminder of all that it has taken to move mental health policy and public understanding from a view of permanent disability, illness, isolation, and marginalization to one of wellness, recovery, self-determination, and community success. Its historic sweep details the development of our movement over decades and provides a vivid reminder that the fight for recovery and rights requires us to stay vigilant."
--Harvey Rosenthal, CEO, New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services


"Phyllis Vine maintains that crisis, whether real or concocted, tends to drive policy in terms of the interface of the mental health and criminal justice systems. She takes us behind the scenes to explore the possibility of recovery for people with mental illness in our society from the 1960s to the present day, identifying key court cases, policy makers, and activists, and illuminating, with compelling examples, the impact that former consumers of mental health services have had and continue to have on destigmatizing mental illness. The current mental health system in America is in shambles. Now, Vine concludes, is the time to act."
--Risdon N. Slate, author of The Criminalization of Mental Illness


Fighting for Recovery is an astonishing narrative of the effort to undo centuries of mistreatment of people struggling to recover from serious psychiatric struggles and disabilities. Vine captures the incredible fights, skirmishes, and out-and-out war between the players (ex-patients, families, the psychiatric establishment, other clinicians, the NIMH, legislators, presidential commissions, and scientists) over the past seventy years. Full of stories, and written in a crisp and clear fashion, it sets the reader right in the middle of the fracas. This is a one-of-a-kind guide for understanding the complex fight to create healing and caring environments, and a clarion call for the next generations to finish the job."
--Dr. Courtenay Harding, former director, Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery at the Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies


Fighting for Recovery is a groundbreaking history of the mental health recovery movement in America. It covers both the family advocacy movement and, more importantly, the consumer/ex-patient/survivor movement, from its beginnings with the Mental Patients Liberation advocacy work of the early 1970s through today's peer-support and advocacy organizations, which now provide services in most of the country. I highly recommended it to anyone interested in the mental health recovery movement in America."
--Mike Finkle, founder and former executive director, On Our Own of Maryland


The subtitle condenses the promise of this book: a bracing account by both committed activist and seasoned social historian, Fighting for Recovery is a textual double for the story it tells. Underscore struggle messy, divisive, unresolved, leaving wreckage in its wake. The roster includes players of various stripes (clinicians, families, bureaucrats, service users/refusers, researchers, even venture capitalists), pitting power politics against street theatre, professional defensiveness against first-person testimony, and even (on rare occasion) discussing relevant research. You may have wondered why 'psychiatry has been slow to adopt recovery programs.' That verdict (coming after more than three hundred pages of painstakingly documented history) will be less mysterious--but not one iota less sad--to any reader of what came before it. The epilogue, a brave coda in its own right, brings the story up to date with shout-outs to promising changes in policing and prisons . . . and a weary, final call for action.
--Kim J. Hopper, author of Reckoning with Homelessness


I am in awe of this generation-spanning, much-needed history about efforts to improve our tragically inadequate mental health system. Born out of love for a brother, executed with storytelling flair, and featuring a parade of impassioned individuals, Fighting for Recovery introduced me to waves of brilliant reforms--and reminded me of the villains who thwarted them. But part of what makes Phyllis Vine's book such a find is the effect it had on my morale. While at times it made me cry out in frustration, by the end I took away an empowering message: You are not alone. You are in fellowship with many who envisioned something better--and many who still do. Armed with that sense of solidarity and this illuminating history, I feel newly resolved to keep fighting.
--Rachel Simon, author of Riding the Bus with My Sister


Phyllis Vine's book Families in Pain was the first to discuss family relationships of people with mental illness. As a tenured professor of American history at Sarah Lawrence College, she taught courses on the history of healthcare. Vine was a founding member of NAMI-New York State. Presently she is the president of the board of directors of Gould Farm, the oldest farm-based residential treatment program for people with mental illness in the US.

Sam Lamott is a single dad who is genuinely curious about how to be a human being, and host of the podcast How To Human, featured in iTunes New and Noteworthy, Apple top 200 podcasts in Health, and Apple top 200 podcasts in Self-Help.

Event date: 
Tuesday, October 18, 2022 - 6:00pm
Event address: 
Books Inc.
74 Town & Country Village
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Fighting for Recovery: An Activists' History of Mental Health Reform By Phyllis Vine Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807079614
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Beacon Press - September 27th, 2022

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