Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2296431
 
 

References (24)



 


 



Reframing Sanity: Scapegoating the Mentally Ill in the Case of Jared Loughner


Katie Rose Guest Pryal


University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Law

July 20, 2013

RE/FRAMING IDENTIFICATIONS 159-168 (Michelle Ballif ed., 2013)

Abstract:     
Rhetoric scholars (Predergast, Leweicki-Wilson, Pryal) have examined the rhetorical disempowerment of the mentally ill, whose perceived lack of reason isolates them from public discourse. Such isolation can be explained using Kenneth Burke's theory of identification (and its "ironic counterpart," division) which shows how the discursive markers of "sane" and "insane" function to create an in-group, the sane, that relies upon the rhetorical and physical isolation of the insane. The article argues that the mentally ill make an ideal Burkean scapegoat, and that the criminal acts of a few mentally ill people provides the necessary justification for the scapegoating of the entire group, taking the case of Jared Loughner's shootings in Tucson, Arizona. This article examines reports of major U.S. media outlets in the weeks following the 2011 shootings to show how the public rhetorical response to such tragedies tends to be one of division, and then scapegoating, of all mentally ill people. The public reaction to a criminal perpetrator's mental illness follows a predictable rhetorical pattern, including arguments of blame (who is at fault for the crimes of the mentally ill?); arguments for greater categorization (who is mentally ill?); and arguments for prevention (what should we do with the mentally ill?). These arguments arise out of a desire for reassurance that future tragedies can be prevented, so long as we can identify, and isolate, the insane. Thus, this article reframes sanity as a culturally imposed division that is used to forge identification, especially after a traumatic event.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 11

Keywords: rhetoric, psychiatry, violence, sanity, Kenneth Burke, mental illness, scapegoat, crime

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: July 22, 2013 ; Last revised: October 21, 2013

Suggested Citation

Pryal, Katie Rose Guest, Reframing Sanity: Scapegoating the Mentally Ill in the Case of Jared Loughner (July 20, 2013). RE/FRAMING IDENTIFICATIONS 159-168 (Michelle Ballif ed., 2013). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2296431

Contact Information

Katie Rose Guest Pryal (Contact Author)
University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Law ( email )
Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States
919-962-2558 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://katieroseguestpryal.com

Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 461
Downloads: 42
References:  24

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo6 in 0.281 seconds