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The 3rd International E-Symposium on Communication in Health Care

"Advancing Frontiers of Health Communication Research, Education and Practice during the Pandemic"

Session 6:  Discourses of Mental Health and Illnesses


Talk 1:  Linguistics explorations of voice-hearing: Contributions and surprising insights

Zsófia Demjén

Voice-hearing involves the perception of verbal content in the absence of an appropriate external stimulus and is a characteristic symptom of schizophrenia-spectrum disorders. While voices can be profoundly distressing, a sizable minority of clinical populations cope well with these experiences. This is because distress depends not on the presence of voices, but on: what the voices say, and how; the relationship that voice-hearers establish with their voices; their perceived control over the voices; and ultimately their ability to live the life they want to live.


In this talk, I reflect on contributions and insights gained in relation to two of these factors: the relationship between voices and hearers and perceived control. Across two separate projects, our team has applied the linguistic lenses of personification or characterization in stylistics and im/politeness in pragmatics, to shed new light on these interpersonal processes and suggest novel ways of understanding what some voice-hearers might be experiencing.

Speaker's bio:

Zsófia Demjén is Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Centre for Applied Linguistics, UCL. Her expertise is in discourse and corpus approaches to understanding illness. Recent projects have focused on: the ideologies of the UK hospice movement and its impact on what counts as a ‘good death’; the phenomenology of auditory verbal hallucinations; how humour and metaphor can help people cope with cancer.

Talk 2: Dementia in the news: Quantitative and qualitative perspectives

Gavin Brookes

In this talk I explore patterns in the linguistic and visual representation of dementia across UK print media. The analysis presented will bring together two programmes of work employing distinct approaches to discourse analysis - corpus-based discourse analysis and multimodal discourse analysis - to consider the linguistic and visual dimensions of the dementia discourses that characterise contemporary British newspaper coverage of this topical health issue. I will argue that the press tends to rely on a relatively restricted range of linguistic and visual representations when discussing dementia, and that most of these have the potential to be misleading about the nature of the syndrome and, at worst, to stigmatise people living with it.

Speaker's Bio:

Gavin Brookes is a Senior Research Associate in the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS) at Lancaster University. His research explores representations of health and other social issues using corpus-based, multimodal and critical approaches to discourse analysis. He is Associate Editor of the International Journal of Corpus Linguistics and Co-Editor of the Corpus and Discourse book series, published by Bloomsbury.

Talk 3:  TBC

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