Social Policy and Society

Themed Section on Mental Health and Human Rights

Psychiatric Survivors and Experiential Rights

Mark Cresswella1

a1 School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University E-mail:


Human rights may be categorised as belonging to ‘three generations’: political, social and ‘solidarity’ rights. This paper considers this schema theoretically, deploying the example of the ‘psychiatric survivor’ movement in Britain in support of its central claims. Psychiatric survivors comprise groups of psychiatric patients who have campaigned both for political and social rights in addition to a singular form of ‘right’, which is referred to here as ‘experiential’. The paper clarifies the meaning of the ‘experiential right’ and, drawing upon aspects of social theory, considers how it is to be understood in the context of the ‘three generations’ schema.