28th January 2022
Author: Jerome Carson Professor of Psychology at the University of Bolton
The concept of flourishing is the main driver of Positive Psychology, rather than the pursuit of happiness. According to Professor Martin Seligman, the goal of Positive Psychology is to increase flourishing. Research we have conducted suggests that flourishing remains an ambition rather than a reality, for many people with mental health problems.
The clinical psychologist Dr Patricia Deegan, suggested we should see people with mental health problems as heroes, given the adversities many of them had experienced. The mental health activist, Premila Trivedi, echoed this and named Patricia and Rachel Perkins as two of her own heroes. I adopted this concept of the ‘patient as hero’ for a series of five papers called, ‘Recovery Heroes.’ In 2012, I started a new series called ‘Remarkable Lives.’
To date over 30 ‘Remarkable Lives’ pieces have been published in the Emerald journal, Mental Health and Social Inclusion. These all have a similar format. The person featured tells their abbreviated life story in 1000 words and then takes part in a e-interview with me. The series shows how many people overcome huge personal adversity in their lives. Andrew Voyce was one of the first people to be interviewed for this series.
Andrew’s story is remarkable by any indicator. He spent 20 years as a ‘revolving door patient,’ going in and out of psychiatric hospital. He slept rough in his car or in bus shelters for many years. Patrick Hopkinson and myself compared his mental health journey with that of the musician Syd Barrett, who established Pink Floyd. The paper asks the question, ‘Syd Barrett took a left turn and never came back. Andrew Voyce did. Why?’ In the paper we examine the factors that helped Andrew recover, to lead the flourishing life he leads today. His account shows the unbreakable nature of one human mind.
Andrew now works as a peer support worker, helping other people with mental health problems. His ‘Remarkable Life’ is a beacon to anyone contemplating giving up. He now epitomises the concept of flourishing. Read more about this amazing man in his published narrative.
Here’s an overview of the Remarkable Lives series
Allen, R. Carson, J. Merrifield, B., & Bush, S. (2020) Still worlds apart: flourishing in people with mental health problems. Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol.24, No.3, pp.163-172. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHSI-05-0027
Hopkinson, P. Voyce, A., & Carson, J. (2021) Syd Barrett took a left turn and never came back. Andrew Voyce did. Why? Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol.25, No.4, pp.385-395. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHSI-06-2021-00031
Voyce, A., & Carson, J. (2020) Our lives in three parts: an autoethnographic account of two undergraduates and their respective psychiatric careers. Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol.24, No.4, pp.197-205. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHSI-07-2020-0045