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Evidentiality in illness narratives

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Abstract

Narratives of severe mental illness can be regarded as the discursive efforts of a healthy self to restore a sense of selfhood disrupted by the illness. Focusing on a sample of 87 unsolicited online illness narratives of eating disorders in Spanish, this article explores how narrators deployed evidential constructions introduced by the perception verb “ver” (to see) to manage identity in the autobiographical telling. The analysis revealed that “ver” indexed information as coming from different sources (perception, mental states, inference). This evidential material was discursively evaluated (via the adoption of a specific epistemic stance) and applied to construe conflicting versions of self in the eating disorder narratives. Resorting to the evidential marking, narrators could rhetorically negotiate the transition from their perceptual self, created during the illness, to their cognitive self, elaborated in the recovery.
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Keywords: eating disorders; epistemic stance; evidentiality; illness narratives; perception verbs; self

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 28, 2018

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