This study explores ways in which high-functioning former patients integrate the experience of prior psychiatric hospitalization into their lives and find meaning from that event. The narratives of two individuals are presented and discussed in relation to social role theory, social constructionism, and labeling theory. The narratives underscore that the process of integrating and making meaning of important life events such as psychiatric hospitalization occur within a social context. Understanding mental illness and psychiatric hospitalization in familial, social, and political terms was instrumental in helping these individuals to reconstruct personal narratives in order to overcome shame and internalized stigma and to integrate their experiences in meaningful ways.

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