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A Critical Discourse Analysis Investigating how Newspapers Contribute to the Public’s Stigmatisation of Schizophrenia

Neile, Lauren Jade (2016) A Critical Discourse Analysis Investigating how Newspapers Contribute to the Public’s Stigmatisation of Schizophrenia. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This investigation aimed to look at the existing stigmas that surround schizophrenia and how newspapers are contributing to them through their choice of language and imagery. A critical discourse analysis was conducted on newspapers dated between 1990- 2016 from a range of sources. Whilst looking at these papers three stigmas were prominent above the rest: violence and danger, incorrect diagnosis, public lack of understanding and symptom misunderstandings and family blame. However, as research by Cross (2014) had previously suggested there was a difference in representations of schizophrenia between broadsheet and tabloid newspapers. Broadsheets were more progressive in their representations of schizophrenia. Although they suggested that they still exist, almost all articles had a ‘turning- point’ moment that emphasised the need for these stigmas to be abolished. On the other hand tabloid papers were less progressive in their perceptions of schizophrenia and almost all tabloids represented individuals with schizophrenia that had committed a crime. However, tabloids focused mostly on the violence associated with schizophrenia rather than incorrect diagnosis, public lack of understanding, symptom misunderstandings and family blame. Yet it could be argued that their unsympathetic attitude throughout could be due to the journalist’s lack of understanding of the illness. In future replications of this study, comparison could be made between papers prior to 1990-2016 and those papers to analyse how there is some progression in the twenty-first century.

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