The psychiatric interview

practice in/of the clinic


  • Tânia Conceição Pereira Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro/ Pontifícia Universidade Católica-Rio



Interactional Sociolinguistics, Psychiatric Interview, Frames


The objective of this article is to analyze a psychiatric interview, understood as a genre in the particular institutional context of psychiatry. The analysis uses a Sociolinguistic Interactional perspective (Gumperz, 1982; Tannen, 1984, 1989; Goffman, 1998; Ribeiro, 1994). The research is ethnographically based (Malinowski, 1976; Geertz, 1989), qualitative and interpretative (Gumperz, 1982; Erickson & Shultz, 1998). The interview was filmed in the Institute of Psychiatry at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in 2002. The results show that the doctor set four frames of interaction: i) opening frame, ii) exploratory frame, iii) co-construction of patient’s life experience frame, and iv) closing frame. In these frames, the relations of symetry/assymetry between the participants were analyzed through the discursive constructions used. The doctor used various alignments, among them that of attentive listener and collaborative speaker, which show him to be a participant that evaluates and has opinions. He also encouraged the construction of stories, which allowed the patient to talk about his life experiences and his illness.

Author Biography

Tânia Conceição Pereira, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro/ Pontifícia Universidade Católica-Rio

Tania Conceição Pereira has a degree in Letters from the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) and Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Language Studies from the Pontifícia Universidade Católica-Rio (PUC-Rio). Since 1993 she has taught Production and Analysis of Academic Text at PUC-Rio, and since 2001 she has been Adjunct Professor in Linguistics at the Teacher’s College at UERJ, lecturing in both the undergraduate and graduate programs. She has been a member of various examination boards such as the National Examination for Secondary Education (ENEM, 2005). Her research areas include discourse practices in institutional contexts, mainly the medical-psychiatric context. She is a member of the CNPq/PUC-Rio Research Group on Language, Culture and Work, headed by Prof. Maria das Graças Dias Pereira. She has been a presenter at a number of conferences in Brazil, among them ABRALIN in 2007. Work Address: Departamento de Letras da PUC-Rio. Rua Marquês de São Vicente, 225 - Gávea - CEP 22.453 – 900 - Rio de Janeiro – RJ.


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How to Cite

Pereira, T. C. (2008). The psychiatric interview: practice in/of the clinic. Linguistics and the Human Sciences, 3(1), 25–46.