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 University of Helsinki

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Vilma Hänninen, PhD.

Research interests: Mental health, coping with life changes, narrative research

C: Narratives of depression

Depression has been the object of different and separate research traditions in various disciplines. As Arthur Kleinman has noted, "If there ever was a situation accurately captured by the image of blind men and the elephant, this would seem to be it". In this study, an attempt is made to integrate the findings of relatively separate fields of psychosocial research of depression by narrative approach.

The founding idea of the study is that the narrative structure is not only present in told narratives but also in the way people understand and guide their life (inner narrative) and, ultimately, in the human life itself. Narrative structure knits together the temporal, intentional, material, social, causal, moral and emotional aspects of existence.

The phenomenological symptoms of depression, such as felt disconnectedness from social relations, hopelessness, feelings of worthlessness, lack of motivation, and loss of pleasure can be seen to reflect a breakdown of the functions of the inner narrative. Depression could thus be seen as a state in which an individual´s inner narrative has shattered or collapsed. The concept of narrative is will be used as a framework for understanding the process of depression as an interplay between the actual life situation, personal ways of interpreting it, cultural conceptions, and social interaction.

The study proceeds on three levels.
1. On the first, theoretical level, the integration of psychosocial research of depression from the narrative viewpoint is pursued.
2. On the second level, the forms, changes and tensions of Finnish cultural understanding of depression are explored using material from folklore, popular culture, and media.
3. On the third level, narratives of depressive persons will be analysed. These are gathered from e.g. biographical writings and interviews of members of self-help groups.

Hänninen, Vilma 2001. Lev Semjonovits Vygotski: tietoisuuden kulttuurihistoriallinen kehitys. Kirjassa V. Hänninen, J. Partanen & O.-H. Ylijoki: Sosiaalipsykologian suunnannäyttäjiä. Tampere: Vastapaino. (Lev Semonovits Vygotski: the socio-historical development of consciousness.)

Hänninen, Vilma 1999. Sisäinen tarina, elämä ja muutos. Acta Universitatis Tamperensis 696, Tampere. (Inner narrative, life, and change)

Hänninen, Vilma & Koski-Jännes, Anja 1999. Narratives of recovery from addictive behaviors. Addiction 94(12),1837-1848.

Koski-Jännes, Anja & Hänninen, Vilma 1998. Dialogiset prosessit ja riippuvuudesta vapautuminen. Kirjassa A R Lahikainen & A-M. Pirttilä-Backman (toim) Sosiaalinen vuorovaikutus. Helsinki: Otava. (Dialogical processes in recovery form addiction.)

Hänninen, Vilma 1996. Coping with unemployment as narrative reorientation. Nordiske Udkast 24:19-32.


2005/01/28 NEW JOURNAL: "Health, sickness and culture"

2004/12/17 PhD Course in Medical Anthropology in Tarragona, Spain

2004/12/17 2nd ANNOUNCEMENT, The 4th Biennal Conference of the ...

2004/10/28 The Fourth Biennal Conference of the European Network ...

2004/03/22 RE:The concept of suffering

2004/02/29 RE:The concept of suffering

2004/02/29 The concept of suffering

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