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LINGUIST List 21.4568

Mon Nov 15 2010

Diss: Disc Analysis: Henderson-Brooks: 'What Type of Person am I ...'

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        1.     Caroline Henderson-Brooks , What Type of Person am I, Tess?: The complex tale of self in psychotherapy

Message 1: What Type of Person am I, Tess?: The complex tale of self in psychotherapy
Date: 14-Nov-2010
From: Caroline Henderson-Brooks <chendersonbrooksgmail.com>
Subject: What Type of Person am I, Tess?: The complex tale of self in psychotherapy
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Institution: Macquarie University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006

Author: Caroline Henderson-Brooks

Dissertation Title: What Type of Person am I, Tess?: The complex tale of self in psychotherapy

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis

Dissertation Director:
Rhondda Fahey
David G. Butt

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis investigates the complex tales of self which emerge from
conversations between psychotherapists and patients with borderline
personality disorder. These patients struggle in establishing a border
between themselves and significant others, which is itself fundamental to a
deeper construal of their own existence. They are being treated within the
Conversational Model of psychotherapy. The model is strongly oriented to
techniques based on language and linguistic evidence and thus offers a
linguistic site at which the study of the complex interaction of self and
language can be made tractable.

Within a broad corpus of transcribed audio recordings of patient-therapist
discourse, the principal focus of my linguistic study is the Conversational
Model's claims about three conversational types - Scripts, Chronicles and
Narratives. According to Meares, they present 'self as shifting state in
the therapeutic conversation' (1998:876). The thesis investigates a
selection of texts to represent these three conversational types, which I
have chosen according to the claims in the Conversational Model literature.
It tests the evidence of Meares' claims concerning the semantic
characteristics which distinguish the three conversational types, as well
as the linguistic evidence concerning the claims of change in the self in
particular the presentation of 'self as shifting state' (1998:876).

To achieve the levels of complexity required for this linguistic study of
self, this thesis uses Systemic Functional Linguistics, which has a social,
interactional orientation and a multidimensional and in particular,
multistratal approach. The research demonstrates that therapeutically
relevant aspects of the self can be productively described, across
linguistic strata, in a consistent and reproducible way as a construction
of meaning. The meanings which speakers offer in wordings can provide a
reliable index for evaluating the emergence and maintenance of self. The
Conversational Model's 'conversations' are confirmed as linguistically
distinguishable text types and the research further shows that key terms of
the Conversational Model can be defended theoretically on the basis of
linguistic evidence, for example, the contrastive linear/non-linear.
Together, the findings describe the complexity in the tale of self.

This investigation of the Conversational Model data also tests the claims
of a functional linguistics at the same time that it evaluates the
Conversational Model with respect to that model's consistent appeals to
language as evidence. It establishes an opportunity to extend the dialogue
between linguists and practitioners of the Conversational Model: the tools
of the one group increase the reflective capabilities of the other.

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