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It has been argued (Pustilnik, 2005) that the majority of representations of mentally ill offenders falls into one of two models: the moral/punitive model, and the medical/therapeutic model. The moral/punitive model views mental illness as a personal failure rather than a medical condition, and any representations of offenders in this model will be unsympathetic. The medical/therapeutic model views mental illness as a medical condition, and views mentally ill offenders in a sympathetic manner. The purpose of this study was to ascertain whether the representation of mentally ill offenders in the Irish print media conforms to one of these two models. In order to do this, content and discourse analysis was carried out on four newspapers over a two month period. It was found that the Irish print media’s portrayal of mentally ill offenders overall did not fit into one of the two models suggested. The portrayal of mentally ill offenders was heavily mediated by gender, age and type of crime committed. Whether the portrayal of offenders fit into the moral/punitive model or the medical/therapeutic model was thus dependent on these factors and varied hugely. Thus, it was argued that mental illness is a secondary factor in the eyes of the Irish print media, and is used to support the primary factors of gender, age and type of crime committed.
Duffy, K.: Mad or Bad? The Portrayal of Mentally Ill Offenders in the Irish Print Media. Masters Dissertation. Technological University Dublin. 2011.