This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Help, Is There a Doctor in the Forum?: A Fantasy Theme Analysis of the Student Doctor Network Forums




Hillyer, Joshua

Type of Degree



Communication and Journalism


This thesis uses an applied methodology based on Bormann's (1972b) fantasy theme analysis to study the Internet communication in the Student Doctor Network (SDN) Forums. The Internet posts of several thousands of pre-medical and medical students were placed into categories based on subject matter and shared understandings of reality and major life decisions. Several fantasies are present in the SDN Forums. These shared fantasies explain the SDN community's love for some medical schools, desire to give each other advice, dislike of ""typical"" pre-medical students, understanding of how medical students and doctors succeed, and their thoughts on what really matters in life. The fantasies are part of a larger rhetorical vision, ""It's Still Worth It,"" which encourages the SDN community to continue trying, no matter how difficult medical school might seem. This thesis concludes with a look at how this fantasy theme analysis can be applied to college advising, as many members of the SDN Forums ask each other for serious advice. The results of this thesis also suggest that an applied version of the fantasy theme analysis methodology is effective for studying Internet forums and other online communities.