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'Moods': Normatively Accountable Devices in Therapy Talk
Unformatted Document Text:  6 This extract, taken from the first half of the session, follows an extended discussion concerning Dave’s difficulties with access to his daughter, his dealings with the Family Court, and problems with his ex-wife in regard to both. This particular sequence marks the first occurrence in this clinical session of Phil directly turning to what might be glossed as a ‘how are you feeling’ topic, and begins with Phil ‘begging the question’ so to speak, by asking “how depressed do you feel at the moment?” (line 1). Note that Phil does not ask if Dave is depressed, rather the question pre-configures that Dave is depressed – what is of interest is essentially the magnitude of the depression. The question is followed by a significant pause, after which Dave provides an avowal, not in terms of a putative depression, but rather that “I just feel sad” (line 3). At this point one might describe such an avowal of feeling ‘sad’ as providing a congruent response to Phil’s question, in that Phil can gain some metric on a putative “depressed” state – however, there are some features that suggest otherwise. Note the use of the first “just” (line 3) as a limiting device, that may serve to prevent the conflation of the vernacular “sad” to something more clinical, or to be precise, to stand as a counter to “depressed”. The use of “just” also points to the unremarkable nature of the report of feeling “sad”, possibly in contrast to the more notable “depressed” (Edwards, 2005). In addition, “I’m cornered and no matter (0.9) ºwhat I ↑doº” (lines 3-4) provides an account in terms of actions and events, not psychological dispositions. In this sense, Dave’s account appears designed to pre- emptively undermine any formulation provided by Phil that what is at stake here is in fact “depression”. This is oriented to as such by Phil, as evidenced with his noncommittal receipt “ºYeah.º” (line 5), and use of the discourse marker “Now.” (line 5) that serves to highlight what appears to be a dispreferred answer to his initial question. Consider that if ‘well’, rather than ‘now’, was used to precede Phil’s response, such a response would be hearable as a kind of hedge, as opposed to something that here sounds like a disagreement (Schiffrin, 1982). This can be seen in Phil’s reformulation of Dave’s “just feel sad” as “somewhat depress:ed” across lines 6-7, and the presentation of the reformulated version to Dave that occurs across lines 10-11 (“are you looking at this through .hhh r:ather depressed eyes at the moment.”). In sum, Phil suggests that Dave’s recent ‘mood’ (i.e., “depressed”) is implicative in his “perception” (line 7) being in some manner distorted.

Authors: Bysouth, Don.
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6
This extract, taken from the first half of the session, follows an extended discussion
concerning Dave’s difficulties with access to his daughter, his dealings with the Family Court, and
problems with his ex-wife in regard to both. This particular sequence marks the first occurrence in this
clinical session of Phil directly turning to what might be glossed as a ‘how are you feeling’ topic, and
begins with Phil ‘begging the question’ so to speak, by asking “how depressed do you feel at the
moment?” (line 1). Note that Phil does not ask if Dave is depressed, rather the question pre-configures
that Dave is depressed – what is of interest is essentially the magnitude of the depression.
The question is followed by a significant pause, after which Dave provides an avowal, not in
terms of a putative depression, but rather that “I just feel sad” (line 3). At this point one might
describe such an avowal of feeling ‘sad’ as providing a congruent response to Phil’s question, in that
Phil can gain some metric on a putative “depressed” state – however, there are some features that
suggest otherwise. Note the use of the first “just” (line 3) as a limiting device, that may serve to
prevent the conflation of the vernacular “sad” to something more clinical, or to be precise, to stand as
a counter to “depressed”. The use of “just” also points to the unremarkable nature of the report of
feeling “sad”, possibly in contrast to the more notable “depressed” (Edwards, 2005). In addition, “I’m
cornered and no matter (0.9) ºwhat I ↑doº” (lines 3-4) provides an account in terms of actions and
events, not psychological dispositions. In this sense, Dave’s account appears designed to pre-
emptively undermine any formulation provided by Phil that what is at stake here is in fact
“depression”. This is oriented to as such by Phil, as evidenced with his noncommittal receipt
“ºYeah.º” (line 5), and use of the discourse marker “Now.” (line 5) that serves to highlight what
appears to be a dispreferred answer to his initial question. Consider that if ‘well’, rather than ‘now’,
was used to precede Phil’s response, such a response would be hearable as a kind of hedge, as
opposed to something that here sounds like a disagreement (Schiffrin, 1982). This can be seen in
Phil’s reformulation of Dave’s “just feel sad” as “somewhat depress:ed” across lines 6-7, and the
presentation of the reformulated version to Dave that occurs across lines 10-11 (“are you looking at
this through .hhh r:ather depressed eyes at the moment.”). In sum, Phil suggests that Dave’s recent
‘mood’ (i.e., “depressed”) is implicative in his “perception” (line 7) being in some manner distorted.


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