2012 will be the year of the peer

December 22, 2011
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This New York Times piece captures something that I've been thinking about for several weeks--that determined peers can accomplish, or help other peers to accomplish, truly remarkable acts of courage and recovery. Beyond the details of this story, I've observed a few very interesting instances myself.
Most recently, I attended a meeting of Hearing Voices Network (HVN), an organization that advocates peer-run groups of people who help each other cope with the phenomenon of hearing voices.

As I recounted in a recent article about HVN at least one professional in the audience described the notion of peers helping each other cope with voices as "dangerous." But I've come to believe that when peers reach out to each other, they "normalize" their manifestations of illness and then transform these often negative experiences into positives by using them to benefit others.

I think that changing the meaning of a negative experience of illness is important to recovery and that for some people, peer supports are a far more effective way to do that than other forms of medication or therapy.

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