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6 - The Shifting Meaning of Mental Health and Mental Illness

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 May 2022

Hazel Price
Affiliation:
University of Salford
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Summary

In Chapter 6, I argue that the terms ‘mental health’ and ‘mental illness’ have been used interchangeably in the previous literature on the representation of mental illness in the press. Specifically, I argue that using these two terms interchangeably (especially during data collection) may result in incomparable datasets. Through linguistic analysis, I show that the terms ‘mental illness’ and ‘mental health’ are distinct terms, and that the meaning of the two terms has shifted over the time period covered by the MI 1984–2014 Corpus. I argue that the lexical change I observed is consistent with pragmatic accounts of language change in which the language development is in part a result of euphemism (e.g. Traugott & Dasher, 2002).

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Chapter
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The Language of Mental Illness
Corpus Linguistics and the Construction of Mental Illness in the Press
, pp. 119 - 155
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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