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'The mythological marauding violent schizophrenic': Using the word sketch tool to examine representations of schizophrenic people as violent in the British press

Author:

James Balfour

Lancaster University, GB
About James
I’m a final year PhD student in the department of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster University. I am interested in using corpus-based methods to carry out critical social research. Currently, I am using CADA methods to examine ways in which schizophrenia is represented using language in the U.K. press between 2000 and 2015. Other interests include Stylistics and Lexicography.
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Abstract

Combining theories and methods from Corpus Linguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis, this article examined grammatical collocates of the lemma SCHIZOPHRENIC (n.) relating to violence in a 15 million word corpus of U.K. national newspaper texts. Using the Word Sketch tool via the online toolbox SketchEngine, it isolated several relatively formulaic lexico-grammatical patterns. SCHIZOPHRENIC co-occurred unusually frequently with modifiers relating to perceived dangerousness and, when grammatical subject, with verbs referring to violent actions. The analysis noted incidentally that, when predicated by the intransitive verb DIE, some examples referred to stories where schizophrenics were killed by police or medical staff, and grammatical agency was obscured.). Other modifiers of SCHIZOPRENIC referred to examples of ‘lay diagnoses’ which were based solely on evidence of violent behaviour. Almost all instances of reported speech ascribed to SCHIZOPHRENIC referred to the admission of violent crime or the lurid and inaccurate representation of psychotic symptoms. Lastly, SCHIZOPHRENIC was grammatically co-ordinated unusually frequently with social groups defined by their violent behaviour. The article concluded by arguing that while the label SCHIZOPHRENIC (n.) is problematic owing to its evident negative semantic prosody, charities and medical professionals should work towards changing the negative misconceptions revealed by identified patterns rather than simply discouraging use of the label.
How to Cite: Balfour, J. (2019). 'The mythological marauding violent schizophrenic': Using the word sketch tool to examine representations of schizophrenic people as violent in the British press. Journal of Corpora and Discourse Studies, 2, 40–64. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/jcads.10
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Published on 16 Sep 2019.
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