Original Articles

Community as Outsider Witness: Utilising Community Members in the Reconstitution of Problem-Saturated Identities

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 22, issue 4, 2012 , pages: 567–572
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2012.10820569
Author(s): Trudy MeehanRhodes University, South Africa, Kirsten FarquharsonRhodes University, South Africa


This study explored community members' ability to enlist discourses affirming of psychiatric patients' quest for generative identities. The participants were members of the public who attended an exhibition of psychiatric patients' artwork (n = 7, age range 18–55). A Foucauldian discourse analysis was used to analyse the research interviews. Results revealed that the majority of community members used dominant cultural discourses to speak about psychiatric patient-artists. These discourses conferred a problem-saturated identity on to psychiatric patients. We conclude that community members can be recruited as outsider witnesses to support psychiatric patients' search for generative identities, provided community members resist discourses that produce problem-saturated identity conclusions.

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