ISSN: 2306-5737E-ISSN: 2658-4069
Acta Linguistica Petropolitana
Transactions of the Institute for Linguistic Studies
ISSN: 2306-5737E-ISSN: 2658-4069
Acta Linguistica Petropolitana
Transactions of the Institute for Linguistic Studies 

Russian mental health discourse: Evidence from discussions of bipolar affective disorder (BAD) and depression

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Rudneva Ye. A. Diskurs o psikhicheskikh rasstroystvakh (na primere obsuzhdeniy BAR i depressii na russkom yazyke). Acta Linguistica Petropolitana. 246–283.

The boundary between the normal and the abnormal or between illness and healthiness runs along socio-cultural rather than medical lines. The article aims to reveal the modern trends, the linguistic means and discursive strategies applied in Russian to conceptualize mental problems, in particular those of bipolar disorder and depression. The analysis is based on a variety of publications and discussions gleaned from the Internet, corpus data (used as a source on the relevant terms and their history), and interviews. The main tendencies in the everyday discourse include medicalization of certain states and moods described as mental disorders, with corresponding assessment of their seriousness, and normalization of mental problems where it has come to be acceptable or even prestigious to publicly reveal one’s diagnosis (mental disorder trendiness discourse). The concept of bipolar disorder has practically lost its connection with the old variant — manic-depressive syndrome, and the new lexical items (bipolyarka, bipolyarochka, bipolyarnik, bipolyarschik) are often associated with cultural phenomena perceived rather positively; the abbreviation BAR (Russian for BAD) proves to be the safest option for most contexts. The article proposes to distinguish a new meaning of depressiya ‘depression’ (not registered yet in dictionaries) — ‘moping, collapse of strength’, with widespread disputes currently underway regarding the competition between the two meanings. In the discourse, depression is not associated with socially disapproved behavior; there is less representation of activism in contrast to bipolar disorder. Analysis demonstrates that a person can be represented as mentally ill through various strategies: on the one hand, by referring to the fact that he has been diagnosed, taken specific medication or undergone treatment at a hospital; on the other hand, mental illness can be described as a violation of social norms, including those concerning communication. Discursive strategies of people who have not experienced mental disorder differ from those who have. When discussing mental illness, the latter often find no neutral language for it, resorting to prosodic means or using various sounds / gestures meant to reflect their emotions and serve as a means of referencing.

mental health discourse, critical discourse analysis, bipolar disorder, depression, interviews, political correctness
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mental health discourse, critical discourse analysis, bipolar disorder, depression, interviews, political correctness
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