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‘Let the heart speak out’—Interviewing practices by psychiatrists from two different traditions

Diana Pinto / Branca Telles Ribeiro / Maria Tereza Lopes Dantas

Citation Information: Communication & Medicine. Volume 2, Issue 2, Pages 177–188, ISSN (Print) 1612-1783, DOI: 10.1515/come.2005.2.2.177, October 2005

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In the present article, we investigate the extent to which professional theories that underlie, inform, and guide the interviewing practices of two psychiatrists (a neuropsychiatrist and a psychoanalyst) are discursively displayed in their ways of conducting a psychiatric interview. This study analyses excerpts from two audio-recorded psychiatric interviews held at the Institute of Psychiatry of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. It follows theoretical and methodological frameworks derived from interactional sociolinguistics. Ethnographic data and research interviews with both clinicians also ground our discussion. Using frame analysis as a central tool, we found that the psychiatrist who subscribes to a neuropsychiatric orientation displays a concern on assessing the patient’s cognitive processes, and shifts topics away from the patient’s delusions to (re)introduce the institutional frame of the psychiatric interview. By contrast, the psychiatrist who holds a psychoanalytic orientation towards interviewing not only listens attentively to very personal topics introduced by the patient, but also sustains and develops these topics. Most of all, she proposes and stays within conversational frames. In keeping a dual understanding about their practices in the interview situation, both doctors balance the need to follow the institutional agenda and the need to listen to the patient, despite their different theoretical orientations.

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