Necessary fictions? Text and response in depression and anxiety    


  • Dr James Carney

    Brunel University London

Project summary

The project will systematically examine the interaction between anxiety and depression and narrative fiction. This will be achieved using a three-strand, hybrid framework that blends digital, experimental and interpretive methods derived from computational linguistics, experimental psychology and literary studies. This will uncover how mood disorders are presented in narratives and culture generally.

The project will analyse the psychological impact of 50,000 texts from Project Gutenberg using machine learning. The results of doing this will be experimentally evaluated against subclinical populations, and evaluated against the experiences of present-day and historical readers using reader panels and reading history databases.

Theoretical outcomes of the project will involve a deepened understanding of the interaction between literature and mental illness. A practical outcome will be a database of texts that have been rated for therapeutic effect for the treatment of two common disorders that affect one in five people.