The Mental Health System and Sense of Self Among Adults with Serious Mental Illness
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Current public policy in mental health seeks to reduce the use of hospitalization for people with serious mental illness and to develop resources that enable them to live in the community as participating and contributing members (President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, 2003). Within psychodynamic psychology, an experience of the self as a seamless organizer of behavior is a hallmark of well being (Mitchell & Black, 1995). Within current sociological and social psychological theory, identity as a process is what links individuals and social systems (Burke, Owens, Serpe, & Thoits, 2003). Development of a sense of who one is in relation to others begins in infancy with the establishment of core mental representations, is intensified in adolescence, and continues in dynamic interplay throughout life as new experiences and challenges are encountered.