This dissertation chronicles the rise and fall of the Mental Health Political Action Group (MHPAG), a Vancouver area radical psychiatric consumer/survivor collective active from 2007 to 2009. The objectives are threefold: 1) to document the experiences of a courageous group of grassroots activists involved in mental health rights advocacy, 2) to recount their achievements and frustrations, and 3) to present these findings in a way useful not only to the academy but to activist communities as well. Through a combination of participant observation and autoethnography, an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of non-hierarchical organization and peer-support mechanisms is applied through the lens of critical theory. The main finding is that, despite challenges and resistances from authorities and mainstream organizations, non-hierarchical activism, as practiced by the MHPAG, provides a space for anti-capitalist social relationships and a freedom for peer support under which many participants flourished.
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Thesis advisor: Menzies, Robert
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