Take the Scenic Route

Thursday, January 20, 2005

There is an "I" in depression

So while I'm commiserating with myself about the lack of sexiness but theoretical virtue of the paper I sent out yesterday, I've been for a bit of a trawl back through some of my more favoured interest areas. I was a bit gutted to find that there was a special issue on what I'd like to think is my area of expertise, and I didn't get to contribute.

I did find an interesting article by James Pennebaker, whose work I generally admire (although I do have some problems with his methods occasionally), who has recently found that depressed people use the pronoun "I" more than never-depressed people. Once depressed people start out with a lower frequency of "I", but by the end of their writing, start to use "I" more often. It sounds a bit trivial, but he has done some fascinating work looking at therapeutic uses of writing, and it also neatly ties in with theories of depression relating to over-self-focussing.


At Fri Jan 21, 08:51:00 AM GMT+13, Blogger Marcy Roux said...

One must be careful that one doesn't mention oneself overly, mustn't one?

See! Not a single use of the subjective personal pronoun in the first person. Doing well, aren't I!



At Fri Jan 21, 11:40:00 AM GMT+13, Blogger Jo Hubris said...

I would like to know more about these "theories of depression relating to over-self-focussing" because I have never heard about that sort of thing before, although I do believe that I'd actually mentioned that kinda chain of thought to my psychologist.

At Fri Jan 21, 01:22:00 PM GMT+13, Blogger limegreen said...

I was actually having a look through the paper this morning, and I think the differences might be a little over reported. The effect sizes are "medium", which means they're theoretically interesting, but not good from a predictive point of view. I.e., the difference between currently depressed and never depressed in the use of "I" per hundred words is 8.5 versus 7.27. In contrast, the Beck Depression Inventory Difference is 20 versus 3.6, and the effect size is *whopping*. So it's interesting rather than strongly predictive (I mean basically you could fairly accurately diagnose on one, but not the other).

At Fri Jan 21, 03:36:00 PM GMT+13, Blogger Jo Hubris said...

Depressed people listen to Beck a lot? Who knew!


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