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Looking Healthy: Visualizing Mental Health and Illness Online
Visual Communication
  • Riki Thompson, University of Washington Tacoma
Publication Date
Document Type
Through a historical case study of the mental health community website, the author applies social semiotics and critical discourse analysis to interrogate the visual discourse surrounding mental health online. Web design transformations over the course of a decade demonstrate how visual imagery conveys a shift from a biomedical discourse focused on illness to a social-therapeutic discourse centered on health and wellness. Ultimately, the author argues that the utilization of faces in stock photography, stylized images, and social media platforms on HealthyPlace reflects a growing trend in virtual visual synthetic personalization on the internet to market mental health disorders as a concern for the everyday person while selling the promise of wellness through online participation. This article explores the visual language of mental health and wellness online to expanding on research in the field of visual communication, health communication, and new media studies.
pre-print, post-print
Citation Information
Riki Thompson. "Looking Healthy: Visualizing Mental Health and Illness Online" Visual Communication Vol. 11 Iss. 4 (2012) p. 395 - 420
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