Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

Document Type



Suicide contagion is a real phenomenon. The stigmatization of suicide attempters, completers, survivors of suicide loss, and the idea of suicide itself is at least partly to blame for these outbreaks. Regarding suicide as an analyst, journalist, witness, responder, or bereaved family member or friend can be a devastating form of metaphorical and literal looking. Through a psychoanalytic understanding of constitutive rhetoric, this dissertation offers a textualized way of considering the difficult process of giving individuals who have completed suicide one’s regard. Beyond just suicide, this rhetoric of regard presents the disconstituent as the lost persona that withdraws from identification practices. In so doing, this work offers a methodology which articulates the painting technique known as the “vanishing point” through the Lacanian subject positions of the Imaginary, Symbolic, and Real. This dissertation argues that identification can be understood as a demand for a false confession of a subject that does not really exist through Kenneth Burke’s notion of “the negative” and “self-abnegation.” The disconstituent is the persona lost to and by the subjective practices of identification. Disconstitutive rhetoric is the false confession and interrogation that creates the state of disconstituency which resides within the regarded disconstituent. This dissertation concludes by arguing for an ambivalent regard which mirrors the disconstituent withdrawal while still allowing for the one regarding to feel for the regarded.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Grey, Stephanie Houston



Included in

Communication Commons