Reactions to insanity : a study of stigma, discrimination and labelling in relation to present and former psychiatric patients
The thesis is organised around an empirical investigation of the relationship between residents of a Hertfordshire village and people who are, or who have been, patients at a nearby psychiatric hospital, some of whom regularly venture into the village to use local facilities. The research employs the method of participant observation and draws upon the discourse analytic approach of Potter and Wetherell, together with the rhetorical perspective of Michael Billig. In particular, the research focuses upon the discursive practices of local people, practices which function to sustain, amplify or minimise difference between themselves and others who are patients. The critical theory of Jürgen Habermas is drawn upon to complement and extend the discourse analysis approach, which receives critical evaluation. In addition, the time-geography of Alan Pred is employed as an heuristic for the representation of journeys of patients in the village. The historical dimension of the relationship between village and hospital is addressed by drawing upon Parish Council minutes and local newspaper reports. The thesis contains a conceptual investigation of public anxieties concerning mental disorder, an overview and discussion of the contemporary relevance of the labelling perspective, and a review of relevant literature. In addition it provides an exploration of methodological and textual issues.