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Dissociation, Relatedness, and ‘Cohesive Harmony’: A linguistic measure of degrees of ‘fragmentation’?

Issue: Vol 3 No. 3 (2007)

Journal: Linguistics and the Human Sciences

Subject Areas: Writing and Composition Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/lhs.v3i3.263


While cohesive devices do not in themselves, or in their aggregate, correspond to the degree of coherence in a text, the measure of "cohesive harmony" developed by Hasan (1984) does constitute an index of the 'textness' of extended discourse, including interactive exchanges. A team of functional linguists and psychiatrists investigated the discourse correlates of techniques in the Conversational Model of Psychotherapy (following Meares, 1993, 2005). As one dimension of this investigation, the "fragmented" discourse of dissociating patients was analysed for cohesive harmony. This analysis provided a basis for discriminating degrees of fragmentation in the discourse of patients interacting with therapists, and results help explain the paradoxical combination of disaggregation and fusion in the way such patients construe their experience. Additionally, the method provides new forms of evidence of coherence and consensus between therapist and patient, indices of progress which might otherwise be 'lost' or argued on an intuitive basis alone.

Halliday, M. A. K., & Hasan, R. (Eds.). (1985). Language, context, and text: Aspects of language in a social semiotic perspective. Deakin University: Deakin University Press.
Hasan, R. (1984). Coherence and Cohesive Harmony. In J. Flood (Ed.), Understanding Reading Comprehension: Cognition, language, and the structure of prose (pp. 181-219). Newark, Delaware: International Reading Association.
Meares, R. (1993). The Metaphor of Play: Disruption and Restoration in the Borderline Experience. Northvale, NJ: Aronson.
Meares, R. (2005). The Metaphor of Play: Origin and Breakdown of Personal Being (3rd, revised ed.). London: Routledge.

Author: David Grimston Butt, Alison Rotha Moore, Caroline Henderson-Brooks, Joan Haliburn, Russell Meares

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