Survivor-Controlled Research: A New Foundation for Thinking about Psychiatry and Mental Health


  • Jasna Russo Mental Disability Advocacy Center (MDAC)



survivor-controlled research, user-controlled research, service user involvement, experiential knowledge, researcher's identity


Survivor-controlled research in the field of mental health can be perceived as the most extended development of participatory research. This is not only because it does away with the role of research subjects, but because the experiential knowledge (as opposed to clinical) acquires a central role throughout the whole research process—from the design to the analysis and the interpretation of outcomes stages.
The first part of this article provides some background information about the context and development of user/survivor-controlled research in the UK. In the second part, the discussion focuses on the first two German studies which apply this research methodology in the field of psychiatry. Both studies are used as examples of the approach, which favors closeness to the subject as opposed to "scientific distance."
The overall objective of this paper is to outline the general achievements and challenges of survivor-controlled research. Arguing for the value of this research approach I hope to demonstrate the ways in which it raises fundamental issues related to conventional knowledge production and challenges the nature of what counts as psychiatric evidence.



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Author Biography

Jasna Russo, Mental Disability Advocacy Center (MDAC)

Jasna RUSSO is an independent survivor researcher living in Berlin, Germany. She has a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology and has worked on both collaborative and survivor-controlled research projects. She is currently undertaking a PhD at Brunel University in London with the working title "Towards a first person-defined model of madness."




How to Cite

Russo, J. (2012). Survivor-Controlled Research: A New Foundation for Thinking about Psychiatry and Mental Health. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 13(1).