Constructions of the self in interaction with the Beck Depression Inventory

Health (London). 2008 Oct;12(4):515-33. doi: 10.1177/1363459308094423.


In this article, I am interested in discourses of people completing the Polish version of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). I focus upon the negotiation of the spaces for constructing the self opened by the BDI. My corpus consists of transcripts of 50 sessions in which self-reportedly healthy people were asked to ;think aloud' while completing the BDI. I shall demonstrate that in interactions with the ;depression scale', the informants mostly rejected the spaces offered by it. Three strategies of such rejection are discussed: reformulation, recontextualization and an explicit challenge to the categories offered by the BDI. I shall argue that the concerns of lived experience in a particular context, when not subdued by the relationship of power in the situation of medical examination, overrule the frame imposed by the a-contextual questionnaire of sadness. Insight into depression or its intensity offered by ;context-free' psychological or psychiatric instrument, set outside lived experience, is extremely problematic.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychometrics / methods*
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Severity of Illness Index