Historical Context, Institutional Change, Organizational Structure, and the Mental Illness Career
Walter, Charles Thomas
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This dissertation demonstrates how patients' mental illness treatment careers depend on the change and/or stability among differing levels of social structure. Theorists of the mental illness career tend to ignore the role that higher levels of social structural change have on individuals' mental illness career. Researchers using an organizational perspective tend to focus on the organizational environment but ignore the treatment process from the individual's point of view. Both perspectives neglect what the nation-state's broader socio-political and economic circumstances could imply for people seeking treatment for mental disorders. Organizational theory and theories of the mental illness career are independent theoretical streams that remain separate. This dissertation connects these independent theoretical streams by developing a unifying theoretical framework based on historical analysis. This historical analysis covers three phases of treatment beginning at the end of World War II to the present. This framework identifies mechanisms through which changes in larger levels of social structure can change the experience and career of mental patients. This new perspective challenges current conceptions of the mental illness career as static by accounting for the various levels of social structure that play a part in the mental illness treatment career. Taken together, the inclusion of differing levels of social structure and the subsequent reciprocal relationship between these levels of analysis produce a narrative that explains why and how stability and change within the mental health sector shape the mental illness treatment career.
- Doctoral Dissertations