The day we were dogs: Mental illness, shared reading, and moments of transformation

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This article builds on ethnographic fieldwork in shared reading groups for mentally vulnerable young people in Denmark. Shared reading is a technique in which prose and poetry are read aloud with breaks, allowing time for discussion. It is increasingly used in Denmark for mental health improvement. Drawing on the notion of Stimmung coined by the literary scholar Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, and on detailed examples from reading group sessions and interviews, we show how participants tune into an atmosphere of presence that arises from the collective en-gagement in a literary text. Such moments of presence are significant events for the partici-pants, whose everyday lives otherwise are marked by mental illness and a sense of being dif-ferent from others. The transformation on which this article focuses, relates to the brief disap-pearance of the troubling sense of self with which the young people have to contend on a daily basis.
Original languageEnglish
JournalETHOS, Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthroplogy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

    Research areas

  • youth, literature, temporality, atmosphere

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