Summer 2015, 45:2, pages 138-163
Recuperative Ethos and Agile Epistemologies: Toward a Vernacular Engagement with Mental Illness Ontologies
Abstract: This essay uses data from a field-based study to describe the everyday rhetorical performances through which ethos is established when the orator’s credibility has been compromised by stigma born of chronic mental illness. These strategies, called “recuperative ethos,” include displays of astuteness, references to strong human connections, and appeals to religious topoi. Further, the essay describes innovative rhetorical performances, called “agile epistemologies,” which include logical contradiction, metonymic parallels, enthymemes, and expansive views on human agency. Taken together, these terms use the voices and experiences of mentally ill participants to add important insight into the rhetoric of mental healthcare and the rhetoric of medicine, health, and wellness.