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The "Weller Than Well" Research Project

During my survivor personality research I became aware of a big gap in survivor stories. I found stories about people being made stronger and better from every kind of human adversity except for people who have gone through a mental or emotional disturbance. The silence about such survivors is especially puzzling considering a statement made by the famous psychiatrist Karl Menninger in 1963:

Not infrequently we observe that a patient who is in a phase of recovery from what may have been a rather long illness shows continued improvement, past the point of his former 'normal' state of existence. He not only gets well, to use the vernacular; he gets as well as he was, and then continues to improve still further. He increases his productivity, he expands his life and its horizons. He develops new talents, new powers, new effectiveness. He becomes, one might say, "weller than well."...every experienced psychiatrist has seen it....What could it mean? It violates our conventional medical expectations, so perhaps it is often overlooked and occurs more often than we know. It may contain a clue for better prevention and better treatment. (p.406)

...transcendence does occur. And perhaps it is not an exception but a natural consequence of new insights and new concepts of treatment....Transcendence might happen oftener if we could more frankly acknowledge the possibility of its occurrence, expect it, hope for it, even though we are bound to be often disappointed....the reader can be certain that there are thousands of unknown examples who have not been discovered or who have not yet written about their experiences. (p. 409)

The Vital Balance
The Viking Press, 1963
Co-authors Martin Mayman and Paul Pruyser

Unsolved Mystery: Where are the people who get "weller than well?"

Over 45 years have passed since Karl Menninger made his observation, but the psychiatric literature remains silent about mental patients who become "weller than well." Do you know of anyone who had a breakthrough that was diagnosed as a breakdown? Someone who is a better person today because of a so-called mental illness? Please help us locate people who, although diagnosed by psychiatrists as mentally ill, were transformed by their experience, became stronger, better, more talented, more productive, more effective, and so forth.

Send stories, inquiries, and leads to:

Weller than Well c/o
PO Box 535
Portland, OR 97207 USA

Or, contact us electronically

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Disclaimer: Material found on the Successful Schizophrenia website is for your information only. We are not able dispense specific advice for your situation. If you are under a doctor's care, you should talk with him or her about your mental health goals and if they are not on the same page as you, ask for a referral to a doctor or counselor who is. It may mean interviewing several. If you are on your own, you may wish to contact your local county mental health department to ask for local resources. Our site exists to show people that there are all varieties of mental states and assessments of those states; that sometimes 'mental health' is in the eye of the beholder; and that the mental health profession needs to continue to open itself up to the new paradigm ... progress is being made!