“Presentations of borderline personality disorder in the UK press” by Laura A. Cariola

This study “Presentations of borderline personality disorder in the UK press: A corpus-assisted discourse analysis” has been presented on the 5th May 2017 as an invited speaker talk at the Cross Disciplinary Perspectives on ‘anti-social personality disorder’: Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) in Context” seminar series in London (Funded by the ESRC).

Abstract

People with borderline personality disorder are exposed to stigma and discrimination towards mental illness, which impacts on their quality of life and recovery. Through the use of corpus-assisted discourse analysis, this presentation explores the discursive constructions of borderline personality disorder in the UK Press. The corpus included 2,139 articles (with total count of 1,868,320 words) from the first mentioning of the term “borderline personality disorder” in 1990, until 2016.

An initial analysis of frequent key words indicated that discourses were highly gendered with significantly more references to women than men – “her” (23,820), “she” (22,539) vs. “he” (11,382), “his” (9,691), which is consistent with women being associated with borderline personality disorder (Becker, 1997). Women’s identities were often described through familial relationship – “her mother” (871), “her daughter” (591), “her family” (567), “her son” (470) and “her father” (405) – and women’s ownership status was restrained to simplistic existential themes – “her life” (1,179), “her death” (860), “her problems” (124). Suicide was more frequently reported in relation to women – “took (119), take (94), end (32), taken (40) her life” or “jumped (56) to her death”, compared to men. Women are also more often reported of having killed their own mother – e.g., “killed (46), stabbing (39), killing (23) her mother”, whereas in men, mothers were implicitly or explicitly blamed – e.g., “his mother was jailed”, “his mother was an alcoholic”, “his mother was largely to blame”, which alludes to parental conflicts as the cause of developing borderline personality disorder (Whalen et al., 2014). Although early parental losses and trauma were reported in both women and men, women were found to have continuous parental dependencies and conflicts – “her parents did take her back into their home”, “was thrown out of her home by her own parents”. In relation to the immediate home environment, women were also passive victims of others’ coercive or destructive behaviour – e.g., “she was taken from her home”, ”she was raped on her way home”.

In summary, the results of this initial semantic analysis showed that newspaper articles present stereotypical gender-based differences of borderline personality disorder, which reinforce public’s negative ideologies towards mental illness and may also interfere with clinical perceptions.

 

Research Fellowship in the Humanities

The Institute for Advances Studies in the Humanities has offered Laura Cariola (that’s me) a postdoctoral research fellowship to explore “Presentations of Complex Mental Illness in Media and Medical Discourses using Corpus-Based Approaches to Discourse Analysis”. This project forms part of ongoing work that investigates mental health in public and medical discourses. Collaborators include academics across the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, such as clinical psychology, counselling and psychotherapy, anthropology, social work and medicine. The fellowship will also provide ample opportunities for knowledge exchange events and activities, research colloquia and a ‘Health Humanities’ invited speakers series.

The IASH was established in 1969 to promote interdisciplinary research in the arts, humanities and social sciences at the University of Edinburgh. It support innovative research and public engagement activities across the arts, humanities and social sciences through a range of interdisciplinary and international projects and programmes. The IASH provides an international, interdisciplinary and autonomous space for discussion and debate. Since its foundation more than 1000 scholars from 66 countries have held Institute fellowships; and up to 28 Fellows are in residence at any one time.

Presentations of Complex Mental Illness in Media and Medical Discourses: A Protocol for a Corpus-Assisted Study http://www.language-and-psychoanalysis.com/article/view/1889

 

Workshops on “Corpus Linguistics and Content Analysis”

In May and June 2017, the School of Health and Social Science at the University of Edinburgh offers a series of workshops on the use of corpus linguistics and content analysis to explore language data. Such quantitative approaches to language analysis are carried out using software and can provide in-depth insight on language use and word patterns that would be too difficult and too time-consuming to identify using qualitative methods.

Dr Zsofia Demjen

Zsofia Demjen

Affiliation: University College London

Zsófia Demjén is Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics at the UCL Centre for Applied Linguistics, University College London. Her research interests include health communication, metaphor, and the intersections of language, mind and health(care). She is author of Sylvia Plath and the Language of Affective States: Written Discourse and the Experience of Depression (2015, Bloomsbury), co-editor of The Routledge Handbook of Metaphor and Language (2017) and her work has appeared in the Journal of Pragmatics, Applied Linguistics, Communication & Medicine, Medical Humanities, and Discourse Studies among others.

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Dr Laura A. Cariola

Laura Cariola

Affiliation: University of Edinburgh

I am a linguist and psychologist with a special interest in psychodynamic concepts that underpin language behaviour and social interactions. Currently, I am a research assistant in Clinical Psychology at the University of Edinburgh. My research relates to public health, such as perinatal mental health and adolescents’ online behaviour.

Most of my research relates to the concept of body image boundaries and how it influences language behaviour in relation to autobiographical memories and psychotherapy processes.

I am also the co-founding editor (together with Dr. Andrew Wilson) of the journal ‘Language and Psychoanalysis’. The ‘Language and Mind Network’ which aims to bring together individuals with an interest in the intersection of language and psychology, including psychotherapy, clinical psychology and the humanities, and thus to encourage dialogue and collaboration.

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