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Self and World in Depression. An Ethnographic Study in German Society

How do people suffering from severe depression experience the illness and how do they experience therapy? Which socio-cultural conditions of depression are prominent?

Project No. G 401

Vanessa Pia De Bock

The project investigates how institutionalized concepts of depression influence the therapeutic interaction. The special focus is the question how people suffering from the illness adapt and process expert models. It is possible that feeling-complexes that were formerly experienced as fuzzy transform step by step into "depression". This would mean that therapy provides some sort of manual of emotions and makes previously elusive feelings communicable and alterable. The cultural concept of "depression", on which therapy is based upon, can on the other hand cause problems and not feel quite right to the people concerned. In this context it is relevant which self- and worldviews of therapists and their patients actually underlie the interaction.

The first research field is the clinic. Communication processes in group therapies focusing on depression will be examined using participant observation. Patients will be interviewed and also accompanied to their social surroundings outside of the hospital. Expert interviews will be employed as well.

The goal of the dissertation is to provide a contribution to the understanding of personal handling processes of people with mental illnesses and of the communication between people working in psychiatric institutions and people with depression. It aims at helping to bind the treatment of depression even closer to the experiences of people suffering from it.




Prof. Dr. Birgitt Röttger-Rössler