Investigating the discoursal negotiation of identity in academic writing is undoubtedly crucial for the construal of a disciplinary discourse community and ultimately also of professional identity. Besides, the complexity of the investigation of identity in academic writing is also to be expected, given the interaction between writer and reader in the social process of text production/reception (Bakhtin 1981) and the ritualised genre tendency to hide subjective identity behind collective communities, as well as to “downplay” the inter-personal, while “foregrounding complex contents” (Silver 2012: 202). This complexity becomes more intriguing in light of that merging of the subject of writing and the object of research, which may be also typical of academic endeavour. That being said, what happens when we are dealing with disciplines whose object of research is indeed the psychological subject? This chapter interrogates two discourse domains identified within Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis, which for their very object of enquiry might promise to pose serious problems for a distinction to be maintained between subject and object of the discourse. Academic identity construction will be investigated starting from a comparison between academic identity attribution (an ‘external’ definition of the discipline) and academic identity negotiation (an ‘internal’ definition of the discipline). As regards academic identity attribution, these are the lexicographic (‘external’) definitions offered for example by the Merriam Webster: Psychiatry: a branch of medicine which deals with mental, emotional, or behavioural disorders http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/psychiatry Psychoanalysis: a method of analyzing psychic phenomena and treating emotional disorders that involves treatment sessions during which the patient is encouraged to talk freely about personal experiences and especially about early childhood and dreams http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/psychoanalysis?show=0&t=1345657851 Interestingly enough, Psychiatry is defined as “a branch of medicine” followed by the specification of which kinds of disorders it is expected to deal with, which immediately collocates it in its disciplinary place. The focus is on the object of analysis (what?), anticipating what emerges from the analysis as a sort of staticity and the deductive reasoning used by the discipline, including its attitude towards the evolution of research. The focus of the definition for Psychoanalysis is instead on of its disciplinary practices: the focus is on the process (how), which might be considered as a prelude to the dynamicity and preference for inductive reasoning as this discipline’s internal academic identity negotiation suggests. As regards identity negotiation (the ‘internal’ definition of the discipline), we are looking here for real data that could point to identity positioning at the crossroads between subject and object of research. To define what we mean by identity positioning, reference has to be made to the notions of identity and space. Also with reference to Backtin (1981), identity is conceived here as social and interactional textual construal; by space we mean the distance taken by the writer (subject of the discourse and psych. doctor in this case) from the discipline and its object of research (the psychological subject or patient in this case). Identity positioning thus corresponds to the spatial distance taken by textual identity instances with respect to their textual referents, which in turn affects processes of identity negotiation and construction in the text. Moreover, the way these identity instances articulate in the text may go so far as to determine its epistemological idiosyncrasy, i.e. the peculiar discoursal way each discipline deals with its field of knowledge, of one discipline with respect to the other. As we will see in the course of the analysis, the interaction between subject and object of the discourse not only informs academic identity negotiation and construction in the text, but also contributes to the discipline’s identity definition/epistemological positioning, i.e. its peculiar attitude in proactively defining itself and producing (new) knowledge (including argumentational style e.g. the tendency to deductive vs. inductive reasoning). More specifically, from the evidence offered by two parallel minicorpora of research articles in Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis we investigate subject and object identity construction, relations and spatial positioning, i.e. the spatial position of subject and object with respect to one another. Given our dynamic definition of space, the different behaviour of I – keyword for Psychoanalysis – and patients – keyword for Psychiatry – in the two corpora is significant. Contrastive analysis of frequency wordlists and parallel keyword lists, in addition to analysis of relevant “operational keywords” (Ferrari 2008: 149), also developed in a cognitive perspective, are used to attempt to answer the following questions: 1) How is the identity of the subject of writing (Psychiatrist/Psychoanalyst) defined? Who/where is the Psychiatrist/Psychoanalyst with respect to both the discipline and its object? 2) How is the identity of the psychiatric/psychoanalytic object (the subject, or patient) defined? Who/where is the ‘patient’? How does this object appear to be perceived? 3) What is the distance between psych. doctors as writers and a) the discipline b) its object of research? The main finding, as suggested by preliminary observation and confirmed by the analysis is: the shorter the distance from the discipline, the greater the distance from its object of research, the subject, or patient.

“At the crossroads between subject and object of research: identity negotiation in the discourse of ‘Psych. doctors’”

FERRARI, FEDERICA
2013

Abstract

Investigating the discoursal negotiation of identity in academic writing is undoubtedly crucial for the construal of a disciplinary discourse community and ultimately also of professional identity. Besides, the complexity of the investigation of identity in academic writing is also to be expected, given the interaction between writer and reader in the social process of text production/reception (Bakhtin 1981) and the ritualised genre tendency to hide subjective identity behind collective communities, as well as to “downplay” the inter-personal, while “foregrounding complex contents” (Silver 2012: 202). This complexity becomes more intriguing in light of that merging of the subject of writing and the object of research, which may be also typical of academic endeavour. That being said, what happens when we are dealing with disciplines whose object of research is indeed the psychological subject? This chapter interrogates two discourse domains identified within Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis, which for their very object of enquiry might promise to pose serious problems for a distinction to be maintained between subject and object of the discourse. Academic identity construction will be investigated starting from a comparison between academic identity attribution (an ‘external’ definition of the discipline) and academic identity negotiation (an ‘internal’ definition of the discipline). As regards academic identity attribution, these are the lexicographic (‘external’) definitions offered for example by the Merriam Webster: Psychiatry: a branch of medicine which deals with mental, emotional, or behavioural disorders http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/psychiatry Psychoanalysis: a method of analyzing psychic phenomena and treating emotional disorders that involves treatment sessions during which the patient is encouraged to talk freely about personal experiences and especially about early childhood and dreams http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/psychoanalysis?show=0&t=1345657851 Interestingly enough, Psychiatry is defined as “a branch of medicine” followed by the specification of which kinds of disorders it is expected to deal with, which immediately collocates it in its disciplinary place. The focus is on the object of analysis (what?), anticipating what emerges from the analysis as a sort of staticity and the deductive reasoning used by the discipline, including its attitude towards the evolution of research. The focus of the definition for Psychoanalysis is instead on of its disciplinary practices: the focus is on the process (how), which might be considered as a prelude to the dynamicity and preference for inductive reasoning as this discipline’s internal academic identity negotiation suggests. As regards identity negotiation (the ‘internal’ definition of the discipline), we are looking here for real data that could point to identity positioning at the crossroads between subject and object of research. To define what we mean by identity positioning, reference has to be made to the notions of identity and space. Also with reference to Backtin (1981), identity is conceived here as social and interactional textual construal; by space we mean the distance taken by the writer (subject of the discourse and psych. doctor in this case) from the discipline and its object of research (the psychological subject or patient in this case). Identity positioning thus corresponds to the spatial distance taken by textual identity instances with respect to their textual referents, which in turn affects processes of identity negotiation and construction in the text. Moreover, the way these identity instances articulate in the text may go so far as to determine its epistemological idiosyncrasy, i.e. the peculiar discoursal way each discipline deals with its field of knowledge, of one discipline with respect to the other. As we will see in the course of the analysis, the interaction between subject and object of the discourse not only informs academic identity negotiation and construction in the text, but also contributes to the discipline’s identity definition/epistemological positioning, i.e. its peculiar attitude in proactively defining itself and producing (new) knowledge (including argumentational style e.g. the tendency to deductive vs. inductive reasoning). More specifically, from the evidence offered by two parallel minicorpora of research articles in Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis we investigate subject and object identity construction, relations and spatial positioning, i.e. the spatial position of subject and object with respect to one another. Given our dynamic definition of space, the different behaviour of I – keyword for Psychoanalysis – and patients – keyword for Psychiatry – in the two corpora is significant. Contrastive analysis of frequency wordlists and parallel keyword lists, in addition to analysis of relevant “operational keywords” (Ferrari 2008: 149), also developed in a cognitive perspective, are used to attempt to answer the following questions: 1) How is the identity of the subject of writing (Psychiatrist/Psychoanalyst) defined? Who/where is the Psychiatrist/Psychoanalyst with respect to both the discipline and its object? 2) How is the identity of the psychiatric/psychoanalytic object (the subject, or patient) defined? Who/where is the ‘patient’? How does this object appear to be perceived? 3) What is the distance between psych. doctors as writers and a) the discipline b) its object of research? The main finding, as suggested by preliminary observation and confirmed by the analysis is: the shorter the distance from the discipline, the greater the distance from its object of research, the subject, or patient.
“Space, place and the Discursive Construction of Identity”
265
293
Ferrari F.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/259285
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