Perhaps more than in any other field of social work practice, theory within mental health remains a contested area, with medical, psychological and social theories providing radically different accounts of how we should approach the range of strange and unusual experiences that constitute mental distress. Particularly in the 1990s, the biomedical paradigm became increasingly dominant in framing understanding and we were invited to see complex human experiences as if they were just ‘symptoms’ of supposed underlying disease processes. Although still dominant, this paradigm has become increasingly challenged, not least by service users and survivors themselves.
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