Sporer wins Rose B. Johnson Southern Communication Journal Article of the Year Award for 2018

Professor Karyn Sporer received official word that she and her co-author, Paige W. Toller, received the Rose B. Johnson Southern Communication Journal Article of the Year Award, 2018, for their article “Family Identity Disrupted by Mental Illness and Violence: An Application of Relational Dialectics Theory.” The award is given by the Southern States Communication Association.  Dr. Sporer says, “I am honored to have received the award given the journal is outside the scope of my primary discipline.”

This research examines how family discourse or talk about severe mental illness (SMI) creates and animates familial identity. More specifically, we sought to understand the interplay of competing discourses present in family members’ talk about their experiences of living with and caring for a family member with SMI. We gathered data through ethnographic interviews with 20 family members of persons with SMI and a history of violent behavior. Our analysis revealed two primary discursive struggles: a normal yet abnormal family and physically/emotionally close yet distant family relationships. Our findings highlight how participants use various discourses to co-create a sense of who they are and what it means to be part of a family defined by SMI and violence.

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