Problematizing the neurochemical subject of anti-depressant treatment: The limits of biomedical responses to women's emotional distress

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Title Problematizing the neurochemical subject of anti-depressant treatment: The limits of biomedical responses to women's emotional distress
Author Fullagar, Simone Patricia; O'Brien, Wendy
Journal Name Health: An interdisciplinary journal for the social study of health, illness and medicine
Editor Michael Traynor
Year Published 2013
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher Sage
Abstract In this article we situate empirical research into women's problematic experiences of anti-depressant medication within broader debates about pharmaceuticalization and the rise of the neurochemical self. We explore how women interpreted and problematized anti-depressant medication as it impeded their recovery in a number of ways. Drawing upon Foucauldian and feminist work we conceptualize anti-depressants as biotechnologies of the self that shaped how women thought about and acted upon their embodied (and hence gendered) subjectivities. Through the interplay of biochemical, emotional and socio-cultural effects medication worked to shape women's self-inrecovery in ways that both reinscribed and undermined a neurochemical construction of depression. Our analysis outlines two key discursive constructions that focused on women's problematization of the neurochemical self in response to the side-effects of anti-depressant use. We identified how the failure of medication to alleviate depression contributed to women's reinterpretation of recovery as a process of 'working' on the emotional self. We argue that women's stories act as a form of subjugated knowledge about the material and discursive forces shaping depression and recovery. These findings offer a gendered critique of scientific and market orientated rationalities underpinning neurochemical recovery that obscure the embodied relations of affect and the social conditions that enable the self to change.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
Alternative URI http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1363459312447255
Copyright Statement Copyright 2012 SAGE Publications. This is the author-manuscript version of the paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
Volume 17
Issue Number 1
Page from 57
Page to 74
ISSN 1363-4593
Date Accessioned 2012-11-07
Date Available 2014-08-28T22:14:15Z
Language en_US
Faculty Griffith Business School
Subject Mental Health; Sociology
URI http://hdl.handle.net/10072/47442
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1

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