Mental Illness Recovery: The Four Cornerstones

June 29, 2011 Randye Kaye

My son, Ben, lives with schizophrenia and was doing well until his recent sudden relapse. Of course, we are doing everything we can to bring Ben back from his first schizophrenia relapse in over six years. The process reminds me of what I believe have been the four cornerstones of Ben's recovery from Schizophrenia - all of which were removed too quickly.

Recovery from a mental illness is possible, but only if attention is paid to the human being behind the illness. Watch and let me know what you think.

APA Reference
Kaye, R. (2011, June 29). Mental Illness Recovery: The Four Cornerstones, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

Author: Randye Kaye

Randye Kaye
July, 2 2011 at 1:43 am

Thank you Dr. Ferati. I'm glad that this post has sparked discussion about recovery. I want to stress, once again, that I speak about the cornerstones of recovery, not the ultimate goals that hopefully can be built upon its foundation. I, of course, have hopes that my son can achieve much in "real life" - relationships, meaningful work, responsibility to self and others, psychical health - but while those are the goals (and he was well on his way just a short time ago), they seem to crumble like any structure when the foundation severely damaged.
Cornerstones must be in place for the rest to be built.

Dr Musli Ferati
July, 1 2011 at 7:28 pm

However, to be parent presents an overloading engagement with many demands and unexpected provocations anyway. Definitively, the role of "good parent" means a responsibility and life satisfying in the same time. The challenge are innumerable and often they surpass our personal capability to handle them such we like. Meanwhile, as a parent of mentally ill child implicates surplus mental loading, that in all circumstances reflects notwithstanding affectionate state. As to pertaining to recovery from any mental disorder, I may to say that like other chronic diseases, psychosis should to treat in long-time outlook, with characteristic attendance toward ill child. When it is in question the four mention cornerstones of recovery from schizophrenia, as the top aim of successful treatment, it might to add that the real life is somewhat more than some predestination criterion. If your intention is to turn your son to real life it should to bringing him like mentally healthy subject, without prejudice and remorse as well. To live up to real principles of livelihood should increase the probabilities for an functional recovery from Sch. psychosis. The same rule is of worth for your son, Ms Kaye.

Rossa Forbes
June, 30 2011 at 7:56 am

I listened to the video (twice). To me, what you are describing is not recovery, but "case management" or "avoidance of relapse." Avoidance of relapse is not, unfortunately, recovery, at least according to my definition.
I'm not even sure that I like the word "recovery." It sounds like low expectations. Shouldn't we expect more? I expect my son to one day be completely well (whatever that means!) and I don't want him to settle for being merely "recovered." I go by Dr. Abram Hoffer's definition of recovery, which is threefold: Free of signs and symptoms; gets along well with the family and in the community; and ability to pay income tax. Many of the people I correspond with on my blog who were former "schizophrenics" feel that my definition is still too, (for want of a better word), "middle class." I think I get what they mean. Schizophrenia generally occurs in young adults who tend to be the thinkers and the artists of this world. They cannot be rushed or slotted into a nine to five world. I had a lot of trouble with this view at first because I wasn't willing to accept that my son, who otherwise looked normal and acted increasingly "normal," wasn't reaching his milestones as an adult. All his friends by now have graduated from college, some are married, and yet he is taking his time doing absolutely nothing that resonates with my rather parochial view of what life should be like at his age. He is slowly, but surely, becoming a real person. I know that one day he will be doing what he was put on this earth to do. Forgive me if I sound like like a new-ager, but the experience of schizophrenia has challenged me and changed me for the better.
In the beginning with my son, my husband and I put all our energy into avoidance of relapse, but we also knew that my son was not "recovered" even though he hadn't relapsed. We had to change our view of what schizophrenia is, in order to get to our present state. My son relapsed two years ago, but, as I said to the shrinks at the time, they were getting a more complete person than the shell of a person they first encountered four years previously. I read a lot of Hermann Hesse, who really understands schizophrenia. Here's what he has to say.
"Demian is about a very specific task or crisis in one's youth, which continues beyond that stage, but mostly affects (sic) young people: the struggle to forge an identity and develop a personality of one's own."
"Not everyone is allotted the chance to become a personality; most remain types, and never experience the rigor of becoming an individual. But those who do so inevitably discover that these struggles bring them into conflict with the normal life of average people and the traditional values and bourgeois conventions that they uphold."
Schizophrenia has humbled me.
Thanks for listening to my ramble.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Randye Kaye
June, 30 2011 at 9:07 am

Rossa, you make so many excellent points in this comment, many of which mirror my own experience. I often wonder this: if we all lived in a tribe somewhere "uncivilized", would our sons be revered as spiritual leaders instead ? Quite possibly. Still, for the world I live in, the "middle-class" definition of recovery you quoted works very well for me. At this point, I am quite satisfied with what I've called "recovery" in my video, because with that support Ben did accomplish those 3 things. He was even paying income tax. But yes you could also call it "avoidance of relapse". To me, right now, since treatment is so unsophisticated, avoidance of relapse is our "new normal" and I'm happy with that for now - especially considering what happens when those cornerstones are ignored, as they recently were. But we all hope - and the mental health community should aim for - something even better than avoidance of relapse.
thanks for your insight,

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