Despite two centuries and three major reform movements, mental patients have remained on the outside of the mainstream of society, often living in poverty and violence. Today we are undergoing yet another period of reform and, in a historical first, ex-mental patients, now calling themselves consumers and psychiatric survivors, have been recruited in record numbers by the Ontario government to participate in the change process. A Fragile Revolution investigates the complex relationship between ex-mental patients, the government, the mental health system, and mental health professionals. It also explores how the recent changes in policy have affected that relationship, creating new tensions and new opportunities. Using qualitative interviews with prominent consumer and survivor activists, Everett examines how consumers and survivors define themselves, how they define mental illness, and how their personal experience has been translated into political action. While it is clear that consumers and survivors have affected the rhetoric of reform, they know that words do not equal action.
As they struggle to develop their own separate advocacy agenda, they acknowledge that theirs is a fragile revolution, but one that is here to stay.