Sie sind auf Seite 1von 14


Analysis on the article Redefining Mental Illness by Tania Luhrmann

The University of Texas at El Paso
RWS 1301
Karla Moriel


Mental health problems are more common and revolve around us more than we can
possibly ever think of. It is interesting how poorly many of us are informed about these diseases
and the lack of awareness the public has over mental health disorders. The article Redefining
Mental Illness written by Tanya Marie Luhrmann offers a descriptive insight to a recent
publication by British Psychological Society, Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia,
which offers a refresh on the knowledge regarding the current treatments being administered and
their lack of efficiency. The content of the article published on 2015 presents the new perspective
and facts the society has made public. The analysis of Redefining Mental Illness will discuss the
composition of the argument throughout the whole article, what is its purpose. The data, sources
and claims being included will be discussed also, and whether the author is successful in
transmitting and ensuring the understanding over the new document and the path the British
Psychological Society has decided to take.

The author of the article, Tanya Marie Luhrmann, is a professor of anthropology at

Stanford University and a contributing opinion writer. She obtained her Ph.D. from the
University of Cambridge and has taught at the University of California, San Diego, and the
University of Chicago before she reached to Stanford. Luhrmann was elected as a fellow by the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003, which is one of the oldest societies and
independent policy research centers, and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007. She has
written several books, in Of Two Minds: The Growing Disorder in American Psychiatry,
treatments involving and not involving medications were the essence of the book. The different
credentials and experiences the author has in writing and in providing strong reviews on
American psychiatry provides her with the authority and credibility to discuss a topic of this
magnitude, such as the refresh on mental disorders. By ensuring the author has sufficient


background information to actually be making relevant opinions in the matter, reinforces the
argument of the article in such a way that it makes it a reliable source for the audience to
generate and construct their knowledge on the subject, and in this fact lays the importance of the
writer in bringing veracity to her writing.

The article can be found to be reliable on its own firstly because of its place of
publishing, The New York Times, is a prestigious newspaper that has been around for more than
162 years and has a global impact, and since the beginning as a reader you consider that
whatever is written in a paper of such level has to be both reliable and important. Secondly, the
author does referral of several outside sources from the British Psychological Association which
gives the reader a more complete sense of the topic being discussed. The importance of
presenting sources outside BPS ensures the author that the reader is getting the complete picture
and provides trustworthiness to the article, the key factor when trying to persuade is not diminish
the counter side, it is to present both sides and then remark why the position youve chosen is
more suitable and beneficial, and Luhrmann succeeds in presenting a good case.

The article mostly in its content is loyal to a fair voice providing information on both
sides of the argument, it is important to state clearly that the article mainly discourses on the
content of Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia it analyzes its point of view and the
future to come for mental disorders, this does not signify the author favoring one side of the
argument. The author finalizes by remarking that although mental illnesses are still an incognita,
a commitment to know them better will push us further; this statement concisely establishes the
purpose of Lurhmann, which can be determined to raise awareness for this type of disorders.


In the beginning of the part of the article a picture is included, this picture provides an
introduction to the topic being discussed, which presents a visual projection of peoples minds
and helps set a path for the reader to get familiar with what is about to be discussed. The picture
is a creation by the Russian illustrator and cartoonist Roman Muradov. Muradovs work has been
featured in the Society of Illustrators making him recipient of a Gold Medal, this society is
dedicated to the promotion and appreciation of the art of illustration. He has a variety of clients
to which he facilitates with illustrations, these clients include the New Yorker, New York Times,
Wall Street Journal, Penguin, Random House, Vogue, Time, NPR, GQ, Washington Post, Lucky
Peach and many others. Muradov recently published a graphic novella In a Sense (Lost &
Found), which has received reviews such as Beautiful and Brilliant by Forbidden Planet
International, a blog dedicated to the analysis of cartoons and comics. This variety of
experiences, clients, and credentials from the authors work provide him with the sufficient
authority to express an opinion by means of art on the topic being discussed.
The picture can be found to be credible on its own by the efficacy with which it delivers
and transmits the message; the spectator is able to understand the message from the structure and
colors the picture presents. Also, an artist always signs his/her work and this provides a sense of
reliability on both the picture and the artist projecting a professional image. The picture itself is a
manifestation of perception the author has on mental illnesses, art is medium by which emotions
and thoughts are exposed and presented to the world, and in this case, the picture can be
considered to be bias, since it is a visual representation of the topic by the perception and
experiences of the author.

Moving now to the content of the article; the basis of the argument resides in raising
awareness for mental disorders. The article unravels the argument by first doing reference to a


recent publishing that will provide with a remarkable change to human psychiatry, the author
selects various sections from the publication and throughout the article states their importance in
the future of mental disorders. The argument contains a fair amount of sources, Dr. Thomas R.
Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, the institution itself (NHIMH), and also
the World Health Organization which all of them have a feature in common, a strong presence in
the medical area, more specifically in psychiatry, these sources have a level of expertise in the
matter that provides them sufficient relevance in the topic and lead to a direct reinforcement of
the topic.

The argument is constructed to achieve a level of persuasion in the fact that the
redefined approach is the best one to finally have improvements in mental disorders, and the
lack of awareness from us affects terribly these improvements. With this particular fragment of
the article, When the United Nations sets its new Sustainable Development Goals this spring, it
should include mental illness, along with diseases like AIDS and malaria, as scourges to be
combated., the urgency of the matter can be understood, it remarks the importance of
awareness, by comparing it to other serious diseases the author states the level of importance
mental disorders deserve and need.

It could benefit more the cause and impact in a deeper level the audience if the author
were to expand more on why this redefinition of path the BPS has decided to take is not only
important but necessary. This can be achieved by specifying the secondary effects experienced
by treatment involving drugs, that the author mentioned as one of the principal reasons the BPS
and NHIMH started on a new page.


The article is accompanied by a picture that is formed by ten simple, geometric black
figures that represent people that happen to be walking around each other on what seems to be a
sidewalk of a very busy city. This can be perceived due to the quickness with which the figures
seem to be crossing the path without even looking at each other, each figure/person minding their
own business. The black color used in the figures reinforces the sense of them being at a city,
since black is the most color most often chosen in formal clothes that are used at office works.

On top of each figure/person their thoughts are represented graphically by other small
figures and different colors, and every figure, as in real life, has a different representation of their
thoughts. In several figures the color blue is present in their thoughts, it can be understood as a
symbol of sadness, in a particular person this color is predominant and it is reinforced by the
presence of a figure in the shape of a drop, which can be directly associated with a tear and also
the fact that the figure is smoking which in this case is used as a signal of frustration; the
presence of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs is often used to represent grief, melancholy or these kinds
of behavior. On the other hand, in another figure presenting the blue color, the figure appears to
be holding a book and reading it as he/she walks and in this case it represents wisdom,

In other figures the colors red and orange have a greater presence, and this colors can
have very different, broad interpretations. For one particular figure this combination results in
the representation of hunger because it appears that a shape represents a steak of raw meat. For
the contrary, on a different figure it represents anger and irritation, this figure appears to be
holding a suitcase and this can lead to the conclusion that he/she had a tough day at work. A


distinct figure appears to be in a heated argument over the phone and the red color suits perfectly
in transmitting how upset the person is.

Another point to analyze is the posture with which the figure is walking, if the figure
appears to be curved it is a feature that characterizes sadness, depression, melancholy, or it can
also be perceived as being pensive. If the person walks straight, he/she transmits security and
confidence, and if the person appears to be slightly leaned forward it is portrayal of
aggressiveness, and on the offensive.

The selection of this singular picture brings a suitable graphical visualization of how
peoples minds and thought would appear to us if we had a chance to observe and analyze them,
messy, incomprehensible, or even odd. The truth is that everyone has a different way of thinking,
even the smallest things, different problems, and different perspectives, and the picture manages
to transmit this and another very significant thing. The structure and arrangement of the picture,
the colors and figures used, project that if someone had the ability to read minds, it will find that
regular people can be as delusional and demented as the people that have been diagnosed with
mental health disorders, but still the stigma on the ones that have been diagnosed with this kind
of sickness remains. And in this fact lays the importance and great contribution the picture brings
to the purpose and construction of the argument, our lack of awareness of this disorders promotes
the level of intolerance and prejudice we have for mental health illnesses; in the argument of the
article is mentioned that BPS stated how labels can affect in a greater degree people suffering
from this conditions, and this picture is the perfect link to it, because as long as regular people
are not classified as demented, and the ones that are categorized as demented keep being the
demented people it is fine.


The development of the content of the article is based upon facts obtained from the recent
publishing of BPS on psychosis and schizophrenia. The argument itself is constructed in such
manner that it generates a specific response in the audience, as any other argument, and in this
situation the author is appealing to different emotions revolving around unawareness. The
argument catches the readers interest by using different appeals throughout its composition to
generate the impact desired; both remorse and concernment are raised and alternated throughout
the arguments presentation.
The reason behind the author choosing these specific appeals consists in the efficacy of
them; remorse is a powerful tool that can generate great impact on the reader promoting even a
level of guilt. Concernment on the other hand is crucial in first developing an appreciation for the
cause and secondly directing this appreciation to an action for the cause. For example, Our
current diagnostic system the main achievement of the biomedical revolution in psychiatry
drew a sharp , clear line between those who were sick and those who were well, and that line was
determined by science. This fragment first engages the reader by upgrading their knowledge on
the poorness of the diagnostic system and ultimately leads to the buildup of concernment
regarding the effectiveness of it. This particular segment of the argument the main achievement
of the biomedical revolution in psychiatry transmits a level of irony in respect with the
diagnostic system by calling it the greatest accomplishment of the American psychiatry whereas
in the next part of the argument proves its faults drew a sharp, clear line between those who
were sick and those who were well, and that line was determined by science. With this the
author is successful in both raising consternation and consciousness for changing the system that
leads to a segregation of those sick and those sane.


The author again appeals to the questioning and concernment on the current psychiatric
methods performed by stating because defining people by a devastating label may not help
them. This argument is effective because it reinforces the purpose of the article, and what has
been previously stated about the lack of efficacy of the diagnostic system. The argument
generates specific emotions such as perplexity and uncertainty in relation to the psychiatrists
credibility know that the reader is becoming familiar with the details of the diagnostic system
and understanding how its lack of competence seriously affects the life of the diagnosed.
The article progresses into an alternation of appeal, summoning a different emotion,
remorse. For example, The rethinking comes at a time of disconcerting awareness that mental
health problems are far more pervasive than we might have imagined. The target of this
fragment aims at evoking a certain feeling of responsibility and even guilt towards the poor
knowledge and understanding most people have around the mental illnesses and the approach
medics use to treat it. By stating we within the article the author includes herself among those
who have a faulty knowledge therefore the reader can relate to her and the author avoids the
reader feeling criticized and offended by the constant reminder of their faulty knowledge.
The succession the article evolves again into concerning the audience with the lack of
importance mental disorders receive in low- and middle-income countries, about four of five of
those disabled by the illnesses do not receive treatment for them. In here, the article arguments
the lack of incompetence from the government and authorities who should be aware of this and
working to generate improvements. The authors selection of words manages to portray this
inefficiency and give rise to an emotional empathy of the reader towards those who suffer from
these conditions.


There is much we still do not know about mental illness, and much we can do to
improve its care. But we know enough to do something, and to accept that knowing more and
doing more should be a fundamental this specific argument the author chooses to end up with is
particularly different from the previous ones. As the article reaches its end part, the argument
transforms from providing facts to generate awareness and concernment, to providing a course of
action to end up with the current situation; and this argument is doing that, providing a medium
through which the reader can promote an improvement on the issues revolving mental
diagnostic. The author is able link the cause to the reader and with it; it urges the audience to
leave off ignorance since the issue revolves around everyones unawareness.
A specific age range cant be strictly stated, but an estimation of the characteristics about
readers of the article can be implied, such characteristics revolve around the complexity with
which the article is stating the argument and the structure of it, assuming that the audience has a
previous knowledge on mental disorders and their treatments. With this being stated, it can be
assumed that the article aims at an audience that is able to understand the implications of
diagnosed with a mental disorder and can question and critically analyze the new path psychiatry
has decided to take, this target audience can be within the twenties to the sixties.
Referring now the appeals of the picture; although the artist uses bright colors to
represent the thoughts of random people and sets them over a white background, the colors
altogether with the different shapes representing both the people and their thoughts set a tone of
gloominess on account of the idea that if your thoughts were being represented what color or
what form they would have? As the picture is being observed it can be perceived a level of
melancholy and the reason for that would be that the colors project a cold vibe; the spectator is
able to see through the people and their minds in a very objective way, their thoughts are



represented plainly but very specifically making the spectator the judge of the people of the
picture. By this its meant that the spectator only sees the unadorned thoughts of the people
passing by, but it is not able to see reasons, the excuses of these particular, and thoughts and with
this he/she becomes the critic of the people; the ultimate judge between declaring sanity of
dementia. The manner the author chooses to exemplify the thoughts makes them easy targets to
be considered demented.
For example, a persons thoughts is being represented by orange and red pointy edged
figures, creating a perception of frustration, even anger; everyone has felt angry or frustrated
once in their lives, but that is not the point, the point here is that the thoughts being represent so
purely, so loyal their owners feelings that any doctor if able to see through them will consider
him in quite a need of some kind of psychiatric intervention. But because, this person will not
refer to anyone about his/her emotions he remains in the sane category, and is in this fact that
the picture creates a link to what the author has been mentioning throughout the development of
the argument.
The article states: The report says that there is no strict dividing line between psychosis
and normal experience: Some people find it useful to think of themselves as having an illness.
Others prefer to think of their problems as, for example, an aspect of their personality which
sometimes gets them into trouble but which they would not want to be without. And as long
as the person remains within the sane label, no stigma is created and no harm is done. The
picture suits entirely the purpose of the article by promoting this feeling of melancholy, of
gloominess if we were to be seen under the same eye delusional people are seen through.



The composition of the picture, the forms being used and the bright colors used make it
attractive to a broad range of audiences ranging from children to adults happening to look by the
article on the paper. But the intended audience is the one who fully understands the message
behind each person being represented and how the choice of colors generates a greater impact on
the spectator of the picture. For this reason, the targeted audience can be considered to be people
familiar with mental illnesses and are knowledgeable of their implications.
Each aspect of the article is important because it fulfills a specific function in order to
successfully deliver the content of the argument and provide with accurate information to the
reader in order to create a strong understanding on the subject that ultimately leads to the
formation of an opinion whether it supports or not the case presented by the author. Redefining
Mental Illness succeeds delivering the message and moreover in creating a true concern on the
cause. This is achieved firstly by the authors of both the article and the picture on the article
which with their extensive credentials provide the article a level of credibility already.
Secondly the development of the article is concise; it uses a variety of sources to support
it, and manages to establish an essential understanding of the subject. The structure, colors, and
shapes of the picture helps in establishing this understanding by providing a visual representation
of peoples thoughts and minds.
Thirdly, the appeals done throughout the article are capable of engaging the audience and
creating a crucial impact in order to generate a true concernment and interest for the cause. The
appeals present in the picture project a perception of these disorders that can ultimate lead to be
also the perception under the audience will see this type of disorders. These three aspects
ultimately succeed in creating a strong argument and efficiently promote a clear and accurate



understanding in the reader, therefore the article Redefining Mental Illness creates a competent
argument in referral to the diagnose and treatment of mental disorders.




Luhrmann, T. (2015). Redefining mental illness.

Muradov, R. (2015). Roman muradov. Retrieved from