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Between binaries, borders and boundaries: counselling psychology in liminal spaces

Le Clézio, Natalie (2014). Between binaries, borders and boundaries: counselling psychology in liminal spaces. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


‘Nervous breakdown’ returns over nine million results on an internet search while a search of the academic literature returns as few as twenty-two. It has never been an official psycho-medical diagnosis but has tended to function as such, for variable purposes. This piece of work aims to explore contemporary popular constructions of ‘nervous breakdown’ and what the term accomplishes for those who use it.

The exploration is in two parts: (i) a mapping of the contemporary discursive terrain of ‘nervous breakdown’ through a media analysis and (ii) an exploration of subjective constructions of ‘nervous breakdown’ through participant interviews. These two sites of analysis allowed for exploration of how the discursive terrain positions the subject of ‘nervous breakdown,’ and how he/she resists these positions. In order to explore this interface, a synthesis of Foucauldian and discursive psychological discourse analytic approaches was used.

What emerged from the study was that the discursive terrain tends to position the subject of ‘nervous breakdown’ as not coping or as mentally ill, whereas those who employ the label do so to carve out a space in between these positions, avoiding their associated stigmas. This liminal position of ‘nervous breakdown’ and its consequences are discussed.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
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