Portraying psychiatry: a content analysis of images of mental disorders in print advertising for medical journals

Barton, Carla (2007) Portraying psychiatry: a content analysis of images of mental disorders in print advertising for medical journals. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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A content analysis was used to examine advertisements for psychotropic drugs from the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Canadian Medical Association Journal for the decades of the 1950s to 2000s. The ads were first coded according to journal, year, type of drug advertised, sex of subjects, themes, contexts and subject roles, and then quantitatively analyzed using descriptive statistics. Results from quantitative component are based on the most prominent themes, contexts and roles present in the advertisements, as well as a gender based analysis. Examples of psychotropic advertisements from the data are included within the body of the thesis to illustrate particular points. The remainder of the analysis is rounded out by a reflexive interpretation of the quantitative findings combined with inferences based on relevant social theory. -- Findings suggest that although methods of psychotropic drug advertising have changed somewhat over the years, many underlying characteristics remain the same. For instance, a significant gender bias is still apparent in how women are displayed in these ads. They are still the more frequent subjects in psychiatric advertising and are frequently depicted in passive roles. Pharmaceutical advertisers use visual metaphors to communicate abstract concepts and to link their drugs to notions of clarity, 'normality' and/or a return to the natural world. These 'symbols' represent attempts to visually document 'the mental state' by linking psychotropic drugs with concrete signifiers (objects from the natural world) as one way of presenting them as treatments for mental disorders.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/10143
Item ID: 10143
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 105-111).
Department(s): Medicine, Faculty of
Date: 2007
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Advertising--Drugs; Mental illness--Public opinion; Psychotropic drugs--Marketing.
Medical Subject Heading: ; Advertising as Topic--trends; Mental Disorders; Psychotropic Drugs; Public Opinion.

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