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Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History Of A Modern Disease

1761 words - 8 pages

Manufacturing Depression
In Gary Greenberg's Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History of a Modern Disease, he takes an in depth look at the history behind depression, antidepressants, and how we have come to recognize and accept depression as a biochemical disease. When analyzing this book we can see that depression itself, whether it be a disease that is biochemically manifested or not, is deeply integrated into our society in a variety of ways as many aspects of society associated with depression have specific functions that are integral for society to function properly as a whole.
Gary Greenberg is himself a psychologist who practices in Connecticut and has dealt with depression ...view middle of the document...

Why is it that we as a culture are so fixated on perfecting our health? What is it that is the cause of the social construction, the process of culturally created meanings that affect our perception of the world around us, behind this fixation? Here in the U.S., the rise of mass media such as T.V., radio, and the Internet are now a “part of the daily experience of millions of people, influencing their attitudes and opinions” (Giddens et al. 2012:90) Mass media, a method of socialization, has influenced our thinking in a variety of ways, but one way it does this in particular is the constant portrayal of the idealistic attributes of beautiful, successful, and most importantly, happy people. Accompanying these idealistic qualities we deem normal and desirable as a society is the severe stigma that is associated with mental illness, which we categorize depression under. Advertisements for antidepressants, whether they be on T.V., the Internet, or other media, play off of both of these concepts, our idealistic desires and negativity towards mental illness. They draw you in with the display of common life predicaments such as worry, sadness, demoralization and tell you it is a treatable medical condition. Advertisements for antidepressants targeted at the general populous have risen over the years to the point that “by 2000 companies were spending $128.5 million to advertise their antidepressants” (Greenberg 2011:275) Not only has the advertisement of antidepressants been directed at the general populous, but at the doctors prescribing these medications too. For instance, the book Recognizing the Depressed Patient: Essentials of Management and Treatment, which was supported by pharmaceutical companies, was distributed to thousands and thousands of doctors across the U.S. in the 1960's (Greenberg 2011). Even though there was little supporting evidence for depression as a biochemical disease it was dubbed a “chemical revolution in psychiatry” and this book served as a viral marketing technique for the sale of antidepressants (Greenberg 2011).
When it comes down to it, Greenberg is taking a conflict theoretical perspective on the depression epidemic. According to Karl Marx, “The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of productions, and with them the whole relations of society” (2005:138). Nowadays, the pharmaceutical industry can be viewed as the modern day bourgeoisie. The pathologizing of the unhappiness resulting from people's hardships and the invention of drugs to provide relief for those feelings is form of oppression and social control by the bourgeoisie pharmaceutical industry to keep people feeling conveniently tolerant with the unhappiness imbued in society. This is done so by defining this unhappiness as a problem within the biochemical make up of the brain instead of being an issue with one's life, such as dealing with the inevitability of death,...

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