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Positive Psychology in Practice: Promoting Human Flourishing in Work, Health, Education, and Everyday Life, 2nd Edition by Stephen Joseph

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Chapter 40Building Recovery-Oriented Service Systems Through Positive Psychology

SANDRA G. RESNICK AND MEAGHAN A. LEDDY

Positive psychology is “the study of conditions and processes that contribute to the flourishing or optimal functioning of people, groups, and institutions” (Gable & Haidt, 2005, p. 103). As a movement, it seeks to expand the science of psychology to study what is good (Gable & Haidt, 2005). It is divided into three pillars: positive emotions, consisting of the pleasant life; positive traits, such as strengths and virtues, which contribute to the engaged life; and the study and promotion of positive institutions (Seligman, 2002). Positive psychology shares much in common with the recovery movement in mental health services.

What Is Recovery?

The most proximal predecessor of the recovery movement is the consumer/survivor/ex-patient movement of the 1970s, a social movement that stood in opposition to the medical model of mental illness (Bassman, 2001). This antipsychiatry movement sought to give voice to former psychiatric patients who felt silenced and disenfranchised by the system intended to serve them, with the goal of liberation. Professionals, or nonpatients, were excluded, and groups such as the Insane Liberation Front formed around the goals of activism and the development of mutual-help alternatives to professional services (Chamberlin, 1990).

Recovery stemmed from these earlier movements, but diverged. Individuals in the recovery movement also sought ...

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