Ethical, political and methodological struggles in doing survivor research

Photo of Dina Poursanidou on right with worksop details on left which are repeated in text.

A recording is now available of this 15 March workshop with Konstantina Poursanidou PhD –  ‘Can you help me get out?: Ethical, Political & Methodological Struggles in Doing Survivor Research in Mental Health

Critical Voices Network Ireland (CVNI)  seminar workshop in partnership with the Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century (ISS21) University College Cork (UCC) in Ireland, the Survivor Researcher Network (SRN) in UK and Asylum Magazine, together with the Onlinevents team.

“In this seminar, drawing on my personal experiences as a service user researcher in English Universities, I will seek to throw light on the unremitting identity and other (ethical, political and methodological) struggles implicated in the task of constructing and negotiating my double identity as an academic researcher and a mental health service user; a task involving immense complexities, challenges, paradoxes, contradictions and ambivalence. In discussion with the audience, my aim will be to interrogate crucial concerns that have dominated my conversations with other service user/survivor researchers in academia over the years through some hard questions such as:

a) How to manage the significant emotional labour and the acutely complex ethical and political dilemmas involved in using our lived experience of distress and mental health service use as ‘an instrument of knowing’ and understanding in mental health research? How to care for ourselves and our mental health in the process of carrying out research work that necessitates maintaining continuous contact with experiences of madness and with the discomfort and terror they can generate?

b) How to negotiate the demand to incessantly disclose details of our histories of mental ill health in order to be deemed ‘authentic’ survivor researchers in academia, when such disclosures are irreversible and carry significant emotional and professional costs?

c) How to survive as service user/survivor researchers in the neoliberal University, when faced with unsettling relations with non-service user researchers/academics, a ruthlessly competitive labour market, financial and psychological precarity and casualisation, lack of clear career pathways and obstacles to career progression even for the most qualified and experienced survivor researchers?

d) How to survive as service user/survivor researchers in academia when we are acutely aware that our ‘valuable lived experience of mental distress and service use’ aside, we are actually a liability when our academic worth is measured on the basis of productivity and publications in high impact factor journals?”

Recording and slides available here.

Led by Konstantina (Dina) Poursanidou, PhD. Dina is an independent Service User Researcher in mental health, a member of Asylum, the radical mental health magazine editorial group, and a co-director of SRN.



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