Presentations of Borderline Personality Disorder in the UK Press by Laura A. Cariola

Presentations of Borderline Personality Disorder in the UK Press

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is the most stigmatised and misunderstood, yet also one of the most common diagnosed personality disorders. Within the UK there is an estimated prevalence between 0.7% to 2% of BPD in the general population, with women, 0.6% twice as often diagnosed compared to men (0.3%) (NHS, 2011 factsheet), and in the U.S. between 0.5 % and 1.4 % (ten Have, Verheul, Kaasenbrood, van Dorseelaer, Tuithof, Kleinjan & de Graaf, 2016), and women are particularly overrepresented in the forensic population with 20% of women fulfilling criteria for a BPD diagnosis (Singleton, Meltzer & Gatward, 1998; Sansone & Sansone, 2009). Despite the relatively common diagnosis of BPD in both inpatients and outpatients, the presentation of personality disorders in newspapers has received only very limited attention (Bowen, 2016; Goulden et al., 2011).

My postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (University of Edinburgh), I am using n-depth corpus-assisted discourse analysis to explore how BPD is presented in UK newspaper articles. Special attention is given to identify how discourse types compare in their communication of stereotypes and prejudices that create and reinforce existing social stigma against individuals affected by BPD. To this end I have conducted a corpus-assisted qualitative frame analysis and a comparison of gender presentations. The slides of these analyses might of interest to anyone with an interest in public presentations of mental health:

Framing of Borderline Personality Disorder in the UK Press. 

Presentations of Complex Mental Illness in the UK Press: A Corpus-Assisted Discourse Study.

Dr Sylvia Jaworska

Affiliation: University of Reading

Dr Sylvia Jaworska is an Associate Professor in Applied Linguistics at the Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics at the University of Reading. She is interested in contemporary discourses around health and illness, also in context of food communication and parenting, and explores those areas using linguistic methodologies including corpus linguistics, discourse and narrative analysis. She has published work on discourses of perinatal health and postnatal depression across medical, media and lay contexts as well as pain narratives (please see her publications here). Currently, Sylvia is involved in an interdisciplinary project on the multimodality, perception and understanding of health claims on food packing.

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Digital Scholarship talk on Complex Mental Illness in the UK Press — November 22, 2017

Presented by Laura Cariola 

Abstract: This seminar reports on an in-depth corpus-assisted discourse analysis which explores how complex mental illnesses are presented in UK newspaper articles and medical case studies.

Special attention is given to identifying how discourse types compare in their communication of stereotypes and prejudices that create and reinforce existing social stigma against individuals affected by mental illness. I will outline an analysis of discursive constructions of borderline personality disorder in the UK Press that was based on 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. The results indicated that discourses were highly gendered with significantly more references to women than men, which is consistent with women being associated with borderline personality disorder (Becker, 1997). Women’s identities were often described through familial relationships, and women’s ownership status was restrained to simplistic existential themes.

Although early parental losses and trauma were reported in both women and men, there were also stereotypical gender-based differences associated to borderline personality disorder-diagnosed women, including reports of suicide and matricide as well as unresolved parental dependencies and conflicts. This alludes to parental conflicts as the cause of developing borderline personality disorder (Whalen et al., 2014). In relation to the home environment, women were also presented as passive victims of others’ coercive or destructive behaviour. In summary, the results of this 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 women, and may also interfere with clinical perceptions.

“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

My research focuses on the intersection between language and clinical psychology, including both qualitative and quantitative research approaches a) to inform the development of policy guidelines and interventions to improve provision of healthcare, and b) to explore media presentations of mental health.

As a part of ongoing work that explores mental health in public and medical discourses, I have obtained a Research Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities where I am focussing upon ‘Presentations of complex mental illness in media and medical discourses: A corpus‐assisted study’. Collaborators include academics across the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, such as clinical psychology, counselling and psychotherapy, anthropology, social work and medicine. My mentor is Prof. Matthias Schwannauer, Head of Clinical and Health Psychology at the School of Health in Social Science at the University of Edinburgh.

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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