The objectifying discourse of doctors’ questions. Qualitative analysis of psychiatric interviews

Abstract

In the article I am interested in grammatical structures of doctors’ questions posed during the first psychiatric interview. Applying the linguistic concept of nominalisation I aim to analyse how interviewing doctors fulfil the process of adjusting impersonal, formal and abstract discourses of clinical disorders in psychiatry to a non-specialised target group of patients, which is assumed in the literature. The data come from initial psychiatric interviews with patients with a preliminary diagnosis of the depressive disorder, recorded by 16 doctors in three psychiatric hospitals in Poland. I shall demonstrate that in the doctors’ questions processes and properties were constructed as abstract and impersonal objects, and thus the patients’ agency and social and temporal contexts of their behaviours were obscured. Consequently, I shall argue that the doctors cannot reach the important information about the patients’ functioning, and, moreover, that the practice ‘profesionalises’ the patients’ role. Explaining the roots of the questioning practices in the corpus I refer to the diagnostic manuals as the lingua franca of mental health professionals.

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Ziółkowska, J. The objectifying discourse of doctors’ questions. Qualitative analysis of psychiatric interviews. Soc Theory Health 10, 292–307 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1057/sth.2012.8

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Keywords

  • discourse analysis
  • doctor-patient communication
  • nominalisation
  • the diagnostic manuals
  • psychiatric interview