Crying wolf: A thematic and critical analysis of why individuals contest family members’ health complaints

Charee M. Thompson, Christopher M. Duerringer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We employed a critical approach to study uncertainty, identifying and historicizing the cultural discourses implicated in individuals' contestations of family members' health complaints. We drew upon the broader discourse typically termed the Enlightenment Subject, which imagines individuals as rational, self-regulating, self-knowing, and transcendental beings. Through interpretive thematic and critical analyses of interview data with 32 individuals, we identified 4 central contestations that reflect defining features of the Enlightenment Subject: You are not being rational; You are not trying; Your symptoms do not make sense; and You are not being yourself. This study has implications for interpersonal health communication theory connecting micro-processes to macro-level discourses, and for people as well as their family members coping with contested illness in their relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCommunication Monographs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020



  • credibility
  • critical theory
  • Family communication
  • health
  • interviews

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics

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