'Crazy, mad, and dangerous' : a critical discourse analysis of the (re)construction of mental illness in South African magazines

Wilkinson, Laura Gery (2019-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This research intended to establish what the discourses of mental illness in South African magazines are, and determine whether there is a need for a revision of the current reporting practices on mental illness in mass media in order to destigmatise mental illness in the social sphere and foster positive presentations in mass media. Specifically, it addresses the following research questions: (i) how is mental illness represented in the South African magazines You, Drum, and Move!; (ii) what linguistic tools are used in the discursive (re)construction of mental illness in You, Drum, and Move!, and (iii) how do You, Drum, and Move! differ in their construction of mental illness as a primary, secondary, or tertiary focus. To answer these research questions, this study adopts a Critical Discourse Analytical (CDA) approach; specifically it looks at mental illness through the lens of Van Dijk’s approach to CDA. It also draws on several concepts from other theories from the field of Discourse Analysis (DA) that are useful in analysing the discursive construction of social reality, namely Goffman’s framing theory, Scollon’s theory of attribution, and Huckin’s discussion of “discreet silences” as a form of textual silence. The findings of this study showed You, Drum, and Move! were similar in their topicalization of mental illness as You and Move! topicalised depression the most, while Drum equally topicalised depression and suicide. The top two issues topicalised in all three of the magazines primary, secondary, and tertiary articles were depression and suicide. The most prominent themes that co-occurred with topics of mental illness in the primary, secondary, and tertiary articles were dangerousness (to oneself or to others), and the professional treatment of mental illness. Further, the linguistic tools used in the discursive (re)construction of mental illness include: evaluative nouns, evaluative verbs, evaluative adverbs, evaluative adjectives, metaphors, comparisons, implicature, discreet silences, and polarization. This study makes a starting contribution to addressing the challenges of inaccurate beliefs about mental illness, ignorance about the magnitude of mental health problems, and stigma against those living with mental illnesses, by investigating the role of the media in engendering stigma, encouraging ignorance, and producing inaccurate beliefs about mental illness.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie navorsing het beoog om vas te stel wat die diskoerse van geestesongesteldheid in Suid-Afrikaanse tydskrifte is en om te bepaal of daar 'n hersiening van die huidige verslagdoeningpraktyke oor geestesongesteldheid in massamedia nodig is om geestesongesteldheid in die sosiale sfeer te destigmatiseer en positiewe aanbiedings te koester. Spesifiek, word die volgende navorsingsvrae aangespreek: (i) hoe word geestesongesteldheid in die Suid-Afrikaanse tydskrifte You, Drum, en Move! verteenwoordig; (ii) watter taalkundige hulpmiddels word gebruik in die diskursiewe (her)konstruksie van geestesongesteldheid in You, Drum, en Move!, en (iii) hoe verskil You, Drum, en Move! in hul konstruksie van geestesongesteldheid as ‘n primêre, sekondêre of tersiêre fokus. Om hierdie navorsingsvrae te beantwoord neem hierdie studie 'n kritiese diskoersanalitiese benadering (KDA); dit kyk spesifiek na geestesongesteldheid deur die lens van Van Dijk se benadering tot KDA. Dit verwys ook na verskeie begrippe uit ander teorieë uit die veld van diskoersanalise (DA) wat nuttig is om die diskursiewe konstruksie van die sosiale werklikheid te ontleed, naamlik Goffman se raamteorie, Scollon se teorie van toeskrywing en Huckin se bespreking van "diskrete stiltes" as 'n vorm van tekstuele stilte. Die bevindinge van hierdie studie het gewys dat You, Drum en Move! soortgelyk is in hul beklemtoning van geestesongesteldheid waar You en Move! depressie die meeste beklemtoon het, terwyl Drum depressie en selfmoord soortgelyk beklemtoon het. Die top twee kwessies wat in al drie die tydskrifte se primêre, sekondêre en tersiêre artikels beklemtoon is, was depressie en selfmoord. Die mees prominente temas wat saam met geestesongesteldhede voorgekom het in die primêre, sekondêre en tersiêre fokusartikels was gevaar (vir jouself of ander) en die professionele behandeling van geestesongesteldheid. Verder sluit die taalkundige hulpmiddels wat gebruik word in die diskursiewe (her)konstruksie van geestesongesteldheid die volgende in: evaluatiewe selfstandige naamwoorde, evaluatiewe werkwoorde, evaluatiewe bywoorde, evaluatiewe byvoeglike naamwoorde, metafore, vergelykings, implisiete, diskrete stiltes, en polarisasie. Dus maak hierdie studie 'n begin bydrae tot die aanspreking van die uitdagings van onakkurate oortuigings oor geestesongesteldheid, onkunde oor die omvang van geestesgesondheidsprobleme en stigma teenoor diegene met geestesiektes, deur die rol van die media te ondersoek in die stigmatisering, aanmoediging van onkunde, en die vervaardiging van onakkurate oortuigings oor geestesongesteldheid.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/105911
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