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The discursive construction of schizophrenia as a problem of self in relationship

Stanley, Susanne (2011) The discursive construction of schizophrenia as a problem of self in relationship. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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People with a diagnosis of schizophrenia are thought to experience a „loss‟ of self, theoretically assumed to be the direct result of their "disease‟ or mental illness. This investigation proposes that constructions and reconstructions of self-identity and the relationships surrounding these sense-making activities are an ongoing process and result in a multitude of alternate versions of self. Using discursive and conversational analyses, this study examined detailed responses to questions of self from nine people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and the four support workers who assisted them at a local social support service centre. Diagnosed participants tended to rationalise and „normalise‟ their behaviours and experiences in order to present a socially acceptable self-identity. Support staff accounts of people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia were interwoven with medically discursive diagnostic criteria and behavioural characteristics. Once a label had been attached to the person, the process of reconstructing the self had to incorporate the pervasive, disabling associations attached to their diagnosis, where the only acceptable version of self was discursively medical. People receiving a diagnosis of schizophrenia experience a compromised sense of self-identity and thus, their diagnosis becomes the defining characteristics of their self – an identity classification.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology
Supervisor(s): Donaghue, Ngaire and Broderick, Pia
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