Communication & Medicine, Vol 8, No 3 (2011)

Interaction Order and Anxiety Disorder: A “Batesonian” Heuristic of Speaking Patterns during Psychotherapy

Jürgen Streeck
Issued Date: 29 Jun 2012


This paper describes speaking practices enacted by young female in-patients during psychotherapy sessions. The patients are in treatment for anxiety and panic disorders (social phobias). The practices involve prosodic, lexical, and pragmatic aspects of utterance construction. An effect that they share is that the speaker’s embodied presence in her talk and her epistemic commitment to it are reduced as the utterance progresses. The practices are interpreted in light of Bateson’s interactional theory of character formation: as elements of a self-sustaining system Angst (anxiety). The study has grown out of an interdisciplinary effort to explore possible relationships between types of anxiety and the communicative and linguistic patterns by which patients describe panic attacks and other highly emotional experiences.

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DOI: 10.1558/cam.v8i3.261


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