Cook, Leslie Susan
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With suicide the 3rd leading cause of death among teenagers and with 8.3% of adolescents diagnosed with a mood disorder, there is an educational imperative to inform those who are involved in educating these young women about the cognitive and social aspects of these mental illnesses. This study could provide insights that will increase the quality of relationships among teachers, students, and parents and could improve the development of Individual Education Plans for those diagnosed with mood disorders. Building on work done combining literacy and mental health concerns, studies that focus on development of self, and on sociocultural theories of meaning making, this narrative inquiry dissertation explores and explains how 2 young women who have been diagnosed with a mood disorder develop concepts of self. Using a case study format, I conduct a series of individual interviews with the young women, their parents, and 2 local adolescent therapists. Data also include archival data and a research reflection journal. In my narrative analysis for each case, I focus on the young women’s narratives situated within particular settings as the basic unit of analysis. My research seeks to understand how young women who have been diagnosed with a mood disorder internalize and reconfigure the messages they receive from their external worlds. My research questions how young women appropriate the competing voices within the various settings of their daily activities and examine the multiple mediational means (both material and psychological) that these young women use to construct their narratives. Specifically, I am asking 1) What tools of narrative construction did the young women use to frame their experiences? 2) How did the young women use narratives in defining their unique senses of self? and 3) How did their narratives become cultural tools for authoring self?