"Dangerous and disordered": the discursive construction of "mental illness" in public texts

Kent, Thomas (2014) "Dangerous and disordered": the discursive construction of "mental illness" in public texts. D.Clin.Psychol. thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University.

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The Mental Health Act 1983, amended in 2007, appears based on the assumption that an undisputed entity of “mental disorder” exists, that people who are designated mentally disordered should be treated, and if necessary, detained by doctors. This study aimed to examine how mental disorder was discursively constructed and how different institutional interventions and practices were justified and legitimised in the House of Commons’ debates regarding the Mental Health Act 2007. Verbatim transcripts from House of Commons debates on the Mental Health Act (conducted between 24th April and 15th May 2007) were studied through a discourse analysis. Seven primary discursive constructions were identified: “The Trusted and Medically Objective Expert,” “The Emergency,” “A Fair Process,” “Supporting Subjects,” “The Decision-Making Impaired and Vulnerably Ill Patient,” “The Lawyer’s Field Day,” and “Societal (Dis)Order.” The study concludes that mental disorder was represented in selective and systemic ways that can help justify and legitimise different interventions and practices, for example, enforced medication, making government legislation and psychiatric practices seem necessary. Consideration was given to how psychiatric practices could be problematic for some service users and how legislation could be based on political and public concerns about social disorder.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: mental illness, government legislation, government policy, Great Britain, UK, discourse analysis
Subjects: J Political Science > J General legislative and executive papers
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0435 Psychiatry > RC0512 Psychopathology. Mental disorders
Divisions: pre Nov-2014 > Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > Applied Psychology
Depositing User: Mrs Kathy Chaney
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2014 09:07
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2018 17:57
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/12808

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00