Writing and Reading Mental Health Records: Issues and Analysis in Professional Writing and Science Rhetoric

Writing and Reading Mental Health Records: Issues and Analysis in Professional Writing and Science Rhetoric

Writing and Reading Mental Health Records: Issues and Analysis in Professional Writing and Science Rhetoric

Writing and Reading Mental Health Records: Issues and Analysis in Professional Writing and Science Rhetoric

Synopsis

This revised and updated second edition is a rhetorical analysis of written communication in the mental health community. As such, it contributes to the growing body of research being done in rhetoric and composition studies on the nature of writing and reading in highly specialized professional discourse communities. Many compelling questions answered in this volume include:

• What "ideological biases" are reflected in the language the nurse/rhetorician uses to talk to and talk about the patient?

• How does language figure into the process of constructing meaning in this context?

• What social interactions -- with the patient, with other nurses, with physicians -- influence the nurse's attempt to construct meaning in this context?

• How do the readers of assessment construct their own meanings of the assessment?

Based on an ongoing collaboration between composition studies specialists and mental health practitioners, this book presents research of value not only to writing scholars and teachers, but also to professional clinicians, their teachers, and those who read mental health records in order to make critically important decisions. It can also be valuable as a model for other scholars to follow when conducting similar long-range studies of other writing-intensive professions.

Excerpt

We should never forget that John Tower was denied the chance to be George Bush's Secretary of State [sic] because there were records of his alcoholism, or that Thomas Eagleton was denied the chance to be George McGovern's running mate because there were records of his shock therapy, or that Richard Nixon was denied the chance to be President because there were some psychiatric records he wanted from some safe in an office at the Watergate Hotel.

-- Anonymous Psychiatrist in Private Practice

Problems associated with writing and reading mental health records are well worth our attention. Large and ever-increasing numbers of people are going to be affected by the writing and reading of these records sometime during their lifetimes. As we approach the 21st century, more and more people are entering into an increasing number of mental health care-delivery systems. At the same time, growing numbers of problems are coming to be defined as mental disorders. Consequently, increasing numbers of people are writing and reading increasing numbers of mental health records for increasing numbers of purposes, and that trend is likely to continue.

Lewis L. Judd (1990), former director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), pointed out that mental disorders are much more common than most people realize. They are hardly rare, he explained, and they do not happen only to others. Schizophrenia, for example, one of the less common mental disorders, is 5 times more common than multiple sclerosis, 6 times more common than insulindependent diabetes, and 60 times more common than muscular dystrophy.

Overall, NIMH epidemiologic research has suggested that mental health disorders have a prevalence in the general population about that of hypertension, and thus significant numbers of people are at risk for mild to severe impairments . . .

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