Word Maps and Meanings

POST 7: Issue Mapping

During my Designing Out Crime class for Lab B, My tutor was in the process of Designing a valid scale for measuring the emotive power of individual words and publishing these findings in a dictionary that would contain thousands and thousands of entries. This concept, briefly touched on by my evidently very patient tutor, would come to be extremely relevant in my research surrounding the issue of mental illness, particularly the study and mapping of it’s relevant words. I didn’t totally comprehend the power of words until I participating in the first part of the word mapping task in Week 4. We were able to identify hundreds of key terms associated with this issue with no problems at all, but the real interest was born as we started to individually look at these terms in the context of their use, look at their synonyms and antonyms and really break down what they mean and who would use them. I was deeply interested in how certain words and their ‘opposite meanings’ could both seemingly have clinical or negative connotations. I would have imagined that the opposite meaning of a very unemotional and detached would have been one full of positivity and emotion. However, with words like ‘rational’ and ‘irrational’ we have built socialised interpretations of meaning that give both of these terms a vague negative layer. This finding was true to many of our words, words that are not intended to have any harmful effects but have been built up in a social space to have vicious and hurtful meanings in this particular context.


Working with others during this task was extremely helpful. It becomes evident that while I can be extremely well versed in this issue and the dialogue that surrounds it, I may be only looking at the issue through one particular lens. Each and every one of us has experienced a different social context that allows us to see, feel and react to certain situations and ideas in a completely different way to our peers. Taking advantage of this ability to see things in a different light will be extremely helpful in this task. My group members were able to step in when my mind draws a blank, and I was able to do the same for them. What results is a far richer pool of information and ideas that is going to be so much more useful moving forward with these tasks.

What i found most insightful about these mapping exercises, is that they allowed us to relate avenues of change or possibilities of design to particular problem areas. Through my research I became aware of the growing issue of young people seeking help for their mental health. While adolescents and young adults are among the most effected by mental illness and yet they are the least likely to seek treatment. This is particularly true in rural and regional areas where facilities are scarce and geographic location plays a huge role. I found myself interested in the popularising of e health and it’s relevance in relation to young people who are reluctant to seek help. This combination of concepts came to me through the mapping exercises. I started to notice patterns of words and certain relationships that allowed me to pin point an area of interest. Below are a selection of maps we created, each of which shows relationships that have lead to a problem that I find myself interested in.


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