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UIC receives archives of pioneering neuropsychiatrist

Recovery International, the 80-year-old nonprofit organization focused on mental health, has donated records and the personal papers of its founder, Dr. Abraham Low, to the Special Collections and University Archives at the Library of the Health Sciences–Chicago.
Recovery International, the 80-year-old nonprofit organization focused on mental health, has donated records and the personal papers of its founder, Dr. Abraham Low, to the Special Collections and University Archives at the Library of the Health Sciences–Chicago.

Recovery International, the 80-year-old nonprofit organization focused on mental health, has donated records and the personal papers of its founder, Dr. Abraham Low, to the Special Collections and University Archives at the Library of the Health Sciences–Chicago.

More than 80 years ago, the state-of-the-art treatment for mental illness was electric shock treatment. Cold water immersion, insulin shock and lobotomies were other remedies for those with recurrent “nervous” disorders. The stigma of mental illness was compounded in states like Illinois, where one received a court record when released from a state hospital.

In 1937, Dr. Abraham A. Low, a neuropsychiatrist with the Psychiatric Institute at the University of Illinois, worked with his patients to form the organization now known as Recovery International, or RI, to help patients reintegrate into the community following hospitalization. He developed techniques of self-help to augment outpatient treatments by professionals. Eventually, Dr. Low’s lectures and practices evolved into the Recovery Method, a rigorous cognitive-behavioral training and meeting standard, including readings, four-step examples and “spotting” techniques.  Recovery meetings are peer-led by trained volunteer leaders who have experienced and benefited from the RI Method themselves.

Recovery International, the 80-year-old nonprofit organization focused on mental health, has donated early organizational records and the personal papers of its founder, Dr. Low, to the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Special Collections and University Archives at the Library of the Health Sciences–Chicago.

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