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The Weariness of the Self: Diagnosing the History of Depression in the Contemporary Age
Depression, once a subfield of neurosis, has become the most diagnosed mental disorder in the world. Why and how has depression become such a topical illness and what does it tell us about changing ideas of the individual and society? Alain Ehrenberg investigates the history of depression and depressive symptoms across twentieth-century psychiatry, showing that identifying ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published December 20th 2009 by McGill-Queen's University Press
(first published October 1st 1998)
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It appears that we live in the midst of an epidemic of an illness that we call Depression. Looking back to my training as a psychiatrist in the early 1970s, the diagnosis of Depression was usually limited to states that were so disabling that a person could not work, was at risk of suicide, often needed hospitalization and was usually treated with tricyclic antidepressants or ECT. There was a diagnosis of Neurotic Depression that was milder and was always treated with psychotherapy. Our current ...more
Ehrenberg has the French disease of writing obscurely enough that it is fatiguing to read, particularly on the Subway going to work. I will probably enjoy it more on re-reading. Generally some great ideas about the way Neurosis and Anxiety lost to Depression in the last quarter century. I suggest beginning with the concluding chapter, which puts us here with some sense of how we got here.