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Depression Promotion in Consumer Advocacy: Sick Brains, Scrutinized Behavior, and Self-Healing
Unformatted Document Text:  2 individuals to act against their better instincts to achieve a “normal” identity.. 2 . These theories point to essential links between depression discourse, identity and cultural mental health activities that must be investigated in order to suss out how depression works in culture. Broadly, this paper seeks to understand how the mental health practices of advocacy groups and NGO’s delineate the concepts of mental health and illness, female depression/hysteria, the ideal citizen self, and the “proper” treatment of depressive symptoms. Specifically, the study inquires into how purportedly non-governmental and “private” citizens have constructed and circulated a depression script with a consumer-capitalist ethos. The paper also looks at how new discourses absorb logical contradictions, enabling them to present knowledges that appear reasonable to consumers, who then use them in the governance of their selves. Finally, the paper briefly evaluates possibilities for the recovery activities of a variety of consumer groups, operating often in formal and informal partnership with State health policy and the pharmaceutical industry. Overall, the paper asks what mental health NGO’s achieve in working with the State and pharmaceutical industries, and theorizes how popular depression discourses open up or shut down possibilities for “free” subjectivity, where one is not pressed to define their self within the bounds of standard recovery discourse. Cultural/non-governmental mental health discourses are largely typified by biopsychiatry—they displace the subject, maintain the expert, deploy confession, and require recovery in the name good, productive citizenship. The current cultural confidence in biopsychiatry has resulted in varied state policies regarding mental illness. Many States use biopsychiatric knowledge in policy to increase control over certain citizens. California, for example, recently passes a law allowing so-called “PACT” (Assertive Community Treatment) programs to force drugs on clients living at-home. In such cases, the State has 2 Psychiatrist Peter Kramer, author of the controversial text Listening to Prozac uses the term biopsychiatric materialism to refer to the commonplace transposition of biology and psychology that has come into cultural behavior due to the great impact of biopsychiatry. Kramer notes that in both his professional and personal interactions, he had become accustomed to “mistaking the psychological for the biological.” (1993 , xiii) Graham Burchell (1996) uses the term enterprise culture to refer to the informal contracts by which citizens desires become fused to state desires, namely, through commodity exchange. This idea is useful to theorize that consumers give up various choices in diagnosis and recovery, not only for what they perceive to be preferable products, but also because it is normal consumer exchange practice, that is well-received by the State, and viewed as a sign of good citizenship. Finally, Mady Schutzman (1999)

Authors: Gardner, Paula.
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2
individuals to act against their better instincts to achieve a “normal” identity..
2
. These theories point to
essential links between depression discourse, identity and cultural mental health activities that must be
investigated in order to suss out how depression works in culture. Broadly, this paper seeks to understand
how the mental health practices of advocacy groups and NGO’s delineate the concepts of mental health and
illness, female depression/hysteria, the ideal citizen self, and the “proper” treatment of depressive
symptoms.
Specifically, the study inquires into how purportedly non-governmental and “private” citizens have
constructed and circulated a depression script with a consumer-capitalist ethos. The paper also looks at how
new discourses absorb logical contradictions, enabling them to present knowledges that appear reasonable to
consumers, who then use them in the governance of their selves. Finally, the paper briefly evaluates
possibilities for the recovery activities of a variety of consumer groups, operating often in formal and
informal partnership with State health policy and the pharmaceutical industry. Overall, the paper asks what
mental health NGO’s achieve in working with the State and pharmaceutical industries, and theorizes how
popular depression discourses open up or shut down possibilities for “free” subjectivity, where one is not
pressed to define their self within the bounds of standard recovery discourse.
Cultural/non-governmental mental health discourses are largely typified by biopsychiatry—they
displace the subject, maintain the expert, deploy confession, and require recovery in the name good,
productive citizenship. The current cultural confidence in biopsychiatry has resulted in varied state policies
regarding mental illness. Many States use biopsychiatric knowledge in policy to increase control over
certain citizens. California, for example, recently passes a law allowing so-called “PACT” (Assertive
Community Treatment) programs to force drugs on clients living at-home. In such cases, the State has
2
Psychiatrist Peter Kramer, author of the controversial text Listening to Prozac uses the term
biopsychiatric materialism to refer to the commonplace transposition of biology and psychology that has
come into cultural behavior due to the great impact of biopsychiatry. Kramer notes that in both his
professional and personal interactions, he had become accustomed to “mistaking the psychological for the
biological.” (1993 , xiii) Graham Burchell (1996) uses the term enterprise culture to refer to the informal
contracts by which citizens desires become fused to state desires, namely, through commodity exchange.
This idea is useful to theorize that consumers give up various choices in diagnosis and recovery, not only for
what they perceive to be preferable products, but also because it is normal consumer exchange practice, that
is well-received by the State, and viewed as a sign of good citizenship. Finally, Mady Schutzman (1999)


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