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Addict rehabilitation is best thought of as a process of transforming identities - that is, of making reprobate street characters that society labels «drunks,» «pill freaks,» «junkies,» and the like into decent members of respectable society. This process, as carried on in a therapeutic community of the early 70's called Eagleville Hospital, is described in this book from the perspective of an anthropological participant-observer who lived for a time with a women's therapy group. What she saw was a world in which both staff and patients reside within a radically restructured social and cultural ambience. In this «brave new world» most contexts of daily life are affected, particularly with respect to their ideological content and relations of power. It is, therefore, these aspects of Eagleville's reality-system that the analysis is focused upon. The goal is to unpack the elements of the identity-transformation process.
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«The book is bound to become a primary source for those interested in the culture of residential treatment centers, and the process of changing personal identity.» (Murray Levine, Professor, Co-Director, Research Center for Children and Youth, Adjunct Professor of Law, State University of New York, Buffalo)
«Frankel spent months living in Eagleville, a rehabilitation center for alcoholi cs and drug addicts. She describes that community from within. Her concern is with the social and cultural context of identity transformation, and she has produced a morally sensitive, exemplary study...» (Vincent Crapanzano, Professor of Comparative Literature and Anthropology, Graduate Center, N.Y.)
«Frankel's is an interesting and stimulating book. ... The book is rich in documentation. It provides many fascinating details of events observed, stories heard, and social encounters. Written with full awareness of the ethnographer's role as participant and author, Frankel's feelings, confusions, and conflicts are part of the data. The book also gives a scrupulous accounting of how the data came to be.» (Paul C. Rosenblatt, Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry)
«By positioning a well designed and precisely documented study in the camp of the social constructionists, and presenting an honest reflection of herself as a subjective instrument, Frankel's work is a model for uniting the diverse positions that currently threaten to rend the field of anthropology assunder: she is at once humanist and scientist, reflexive and objective, meticulous in presenting her observations while at the same time acknowledging their subjectivity. ... 'Transforming Identities' is a masterful work. Frankel provides us with a rare description of the workings of a therapeutic treatment facility, the demographics of staff and residents, and the outcomes of treatment. ... In addition, (she) has constructed a sound explanation of how context, power relations, and ideology intersect to effect the transformation of a stigmatized deviant identity into a less stigmatized one.» (Eileen M. Jackson, Medical Anthropology Quarterly)
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