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Discursive strategies in negotiating the voice hearing identity; a critical discursive approach

Aloneftis, R. (2017). Discursive strategies in negotiating the voice hearing identity; a critical discursive approach. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Few studies and interventions address the impact of the experience of hearing voices on identity. Identity issues are particularly salient due to the discrimination and stigma that these individuals face. The current study draws on a critical discursive approach to identify discursive strategies that participants use to negotiate the voice hearing identity. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight participants recruited from the Hearing Voices Network. Analysis took a micro-focus looking at interpretative repertoires, ideological dilemmas and subject positions, as well as a macro-focus looking at the broader discourses of voice hearing present in society. Two contrasting interpretative repertoires were identified. On the one hand voice hearing was constructed as a distressing and difficult experience. On the other it was constructed as a normal, ordinary experience. Normalising the experience of hearing voices in the interest of establishing a closer proximity with the rest of the population results in the distress that voice hearers experience being missed. In addition, participants used six discursive strategies to negotiate identity. The ‘positioned as object’ strategies of blaming, disclaiming and justifying are overt and reject the social identity on offer, increasing the gap between voice hearers and non-voice hearers. The ‘positioned as subject’ strategies of normalisation, trivialisation and reframing are covert and construct a preferable identity that helps people who hear voices integrate with society. The findings suggest that these discursive strategies have implications in delivering interventions and point towards the need to take an outside-in approach by addressing identity issues in therapy.

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