This chapter, through reflecting the apparatus of enclosure, and through beneficent spaces and fluidity, has sought to try to make sense of a range of informal practices that people experience as useful in terms of their distress. What seems clear is that so many of these practices do not require the discourses, expertise and professionals from psychiatry and psychology. Nor can we guarantee to help people any more than those who practice without our assumptions and forms of expertise. As long as we construct ourselves as doing so and use our medical dominance to distort understandings of the fundamentally messy, social characters of both misery and recoveries, we will remain both useful and problematic. The key is perhaps not to look at distress as one entity that can be understood differently through different viewpoints but one that can take different shapes in different contexts and spaces.70 So this outlook constitutes a move from sole interest in objects to an interest in the processes which constitute objects in certain spaces.

The next six chapters of this book seek to build on the themes developed in this chapter and the two previous chapters. They provide a range of quite different case studies on helpful spaces in order to explore the rich variation and textures of informal care, to show how much such spaces differ and how much they are alike. They draw on informal practices, groups, settings and spaces and they seek to engage with exactly what it is that makes these given spaces beneficial for so many of the people who inhabit them. And most of all, they will show that people know a lot. Everyday non-trained, non-expert people have huge reservoirs of expertise, knowledge and capabilities that make possible the fundamentally banal textures of helpful spaces, and in so doing, have such marked impacts on people’s lives. These case studies mark a movement from the dominant and institutionalised ideas of biomedicine to celebrate the everyday spaces, communities, organisations and encounters that allow some people to journey from misery through survival and recovery to thriving.

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