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Title: Factual television documentaries and mental distress : a narrative analysis
Author: Joseph, Candice
ISNI:       0000 0004 5990 678X
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2016
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Introduction: The media is the main information source about mental distress and influences people’s meaning-making. Overall, biomedical narratives of mental distress and portrayals of dangerousness have mainly been depicted. Print media is the most researched genre overall while in the realm of non-fictional television, news programmes have been explored the most. Studies have mainly utilised quantitative methodologies and there is a paucity of research on factual television documentaries (FTDs). Method: A qualitative study which utilised a narrative analysis methodology was conducted to analyse portrayals of mental distress, dominant narratives, counternarratives and absent narratives in two FTDs broadcasted in the UK. Moving visual images were analysed in conjunction with spoken words. Results: ‘Anxiety’ is portrayed as a ‘condition’ with ranges of severity. Psychosocial causes are purported and psychological therapy is portrayed as a means for ‘patients’ to learn how to manage ‘anxiety’ themselves. In contrast, ‘psychosis’ is portrayed as a mental ‘illness’ which can be triggered by stressful life events and substance use. People who experience ‘psychosis’ are portrayed as unpredictable and potentially violent, but also victims of negative media portrayals. Interventions such as medication and ‘sectioning’ are portrayed as necessary and humane. Dominant medical narratives were common to both documentaries, however, the Anxiety documentary also constructed a cognitive-behavioural subnarrative. Counternarratives of resistance/ challenges to interventions were constructed by people who access services (PWAS) in both documentaries. Problem saturated identities were constructed for PWAS in both programmes, and alternative identities were hinted at through visual images. Conclusions: The study highlighted more differences than similarities in portrayals and narratives constructed for ‘anxiety’ and ‘psychosis’. The potential impact of the documentaries and implications for clinical practice, research, service and policy development and public health campaigns are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available