"This is for Life": A Discursive Analysis of the Dilemmas of Constructing Diagnostic Identities
This paper takes a discourse analytic approach to the construction of identities formed through reception of a psychiatric diagnosis (I will refer to these as "diagnostic identities" throughout) as dilemmatic, and the subsequent negotiations of identities in light of that dilemma. More specifically, it is the diagnosis schizophrenia that is of interest, and how people who receive that diagnosis construct their identities. A key feature of receiving a schizophrenic diagnosis is the potential to see one's identity as under threat from the many negative, and predominantly stereotypical ideas, that persist regarding schizophrenia. Drawing on literature emerging from the field of service user research in mental health, the paper attempts to go beyond the boundaries of a psychiatric biomedical perspective of diagnosis, in order to illuminate how such classifications impact upon those who receive them. In this paper the discursive re-workings of individual diagnostic identities included strategies of resisting diagnosis, attempts to distance oneself from diagnosis, existentialising diagnosis, and recognising but resisting suggestions that people with diagnoses of schizophrenia are a social "risk".
schizophrenia diagnosis; dilemma; risk; discourse analysis; service users