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Constructions of contrast in spoken testimonials on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


Spoken testimonials on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) constitute the data for this study, which considers contrastive construal as evoked by conditional constructions (if, unless, what if) and antonymous uses of lexical items (bad–good, guilt–innocence). Unlike conditional language use for the expression of hypothetical scenarios, doubt, and catastrophizing, antonyms have not been a focus of OCD research. In the data, antonymous lexical items establish experiential dichotomies (e.g., good–bad, guilt–innocence, cause–prevent) that reinforce and specify the nature of evoked contrast. Meaning making in the data, it is proposed, evokes contrastive construal according to bundles of integrated quality dimensions such as modality, morality, and emotion that make up incompatible conceptions of reality. Tied to contrast in the data is also the notion of balance, and contrast is considered alongside force-dynamic actions that are experienced as effecting balance. While the overriding concerns for the study are linguistic–conceptual, the study’s findings can have implications for research on OCD and a cognitive semantic perspective can potentially complement both content- and process-oriented psychological approaches to this disorder.

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I am grateful to Paul Chilton and Carita Paradis for valuable input on this paper. I would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers for feedback and suggestions. This research has been carried out as part of a project funded by The Crafoord Foundation and The Torsten Söderberg Foundation.

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