You are on page 1of 12

Symbolic Interaction:

A Theoretical Approach to
Understanding Stigma &
Recovery
Jim Roe

Overview
How

Symbolic Interaction can be used


as a contemporary method to identify
ways in which Mental Health Practices
inadvertently contribute towards the
disabled self.

Background:

The Medical Model


Changes in recent policy & practice
Stigma
Symbolic Interaction

The Medical Model


Medical

Model

Diagnosable symptoms
Expert/specialist to diagnose
Biological framework as an explanation
Expert/specialist to repair

Implications

- Maddux (2008)

Causes lie within the individual not


environment
Understanding comes from the individual
not interactions

However...
Maddux:

Illness ideology

Emphasis on weakness and sickness


Dichotomy of normal and abnormal
behaviours
Patient as a passive victim
No control require expert attention & care

Neglect

for the meaning of illness

Individual
Social group

Focus of NHS Policy


Reducing & controlling symptoms

Optimal levels of autonomy &


citizenship (Recovery)

Stigma & Labelling


Significant

impact on recovery

Diagnostic labelling
The abnormal individual
Perceptions of dangerousness
Social disruption
Relationship troubles
Self-stigmatisation
Perceived personal responsibility
Self worth, aspirations and capabilities

Symbolic Interactionism
Origins

in Pragmatist thought (Mead)


Blumer (1969)
Individuals act towards things based on
meaning
Meanings derived from social interaction
Meanings modified through social
interaction
Little

recent research
Implicit in early sociological work by
Goffman, Szasz & Rosenhan

The Implications
Individuals

actions, reactions
and interactions central to
analysis
First person accounts
Reflective process
Observations of the processes of
social interactions

The Benefits
Focus

on micro-processes
Service Users and Professional
Staff
First person accounts
Meanings
Patterns of behaviour and
communication
Reconstruction of subjective
worlds

The Questions
What

are the underlying meanings of


service users needs, risks and
potential?
How are therapeutic interactions
governed by these meanings?
What are the effects of these
interactions on the recovery process
in terms of stigma and harm?
What are the sources of this
underlying harm?

In Summary
Symbolic

Interaction is a way to
understand how the self is
created and therefore understand
how contemporary practices &
conventions inadvertently
contribute towards the disabled
self.

Symbolic Interaction:
A Theoretical Approach to
Understanding Stigma &
Recovery
Jim Roe