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Driven to Anorexia: the Medicalizing and Normalizing Discourses of Celebrity and Cultural Power in Media Mental Health Imagery.'

Bate, Laurem (2011) Driven to Anorexia: the Medicalizing and Normalizing Discourses of Celebrity and Cultural Power in Media Mental Health Imagery.'. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Previous research has suggested that the negative stereotype of mental health originates in the media (Signorielli, 1989; Hyler, Gabbard and Schneider, 1991; Wahl, 1995). Media embodies culture and celebrities; both of which construct how mental health is perceived within society (Draguns, 1980; Anderson, Berkowitz, Donnerstein, Huessmann, Johnson, Linz, Malamuth and Wartella, 2008). The present study aspires to raise consciousness of the presence of such discourses in media articles, specifically in relation to individuals with a medical diagnosis of anorexia (See Levine and Smolak, 1998). The analysis follows a Faircloughian (1995) framework of critical discourse analysis provided by Richardson (2007). The analysis presents mental health as a complex social phenomena through the emerging themes reflecting the cultural and celebrity discourses of normalization and medicalization. Additionally, discourses of femininity, negativity, control and exaggeration arose. These are commented on in detail in the discussion. Cultural perspective and celebrity endorsement of health has powerful implications for eliminating stigmatisation thus improving the lives of those with health issues. Ethics were in accordance with the BPS (2011) and the researcher's influence was reflexively considered within the analysis. The term 'individuals with mental health issues' replaces the term 'the mentally ill' as the researcher is keen to avoid identification through bodily experience of health.

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