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Academic Paper


Title: Narrating psychological distress: Associations between cross-clausal integration and mental health difficulties
Author: Joerg Zinken
Institution: University of Portsmouth
Author: Caroline Blakemore
Institution: University of Southampton
Author: Katarzyna Zinken
Institution: Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Author: Lisa Butler
Institution: Portsmouth City Primary Care Trust
Author: T. Chas Skinner
Linguistic Field: Psycholinguistics; Text/Corpus Linguistics
Abstract: Psychological research has emphasized the importance of narrative for a person's sense of self. Building a coherent narrative of past events is one objective of psychotherapy. However, in guided self-help therapy the patient has to develop this narrative autonomously. Identifying patients' narrative skills in relation to psychological distress could provide useful information about their suitability for self-help. The aim of this study was to explore whether the syntactic integration of clauses into narrative in texts written by prospective psychotherapy patients was related to mild to moderate psychological distress. Cross-clausal syntax of texts by 97 people who had contacted a primary care mental health service was analyzed. Severity of symptoms associated with mental health difficulties was assessed by a standardized scale (Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation outcome measure). Cross-clausal syntactic integration was negatively correlated with the severity of symptoms. A multiple regression analysis confirmed that the use of simple sentences, finite complement clauses, and coordinated clauses was associated with symptoms (R = .26). The results suggest that the analysis of cross-clausal syntax can provide information on patients' narrative skills in relation to distressing events and can therefore provide additional information to support treatment decisions.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Applied Psycholinguistics Vol. 32, Issue 2, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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