Depressive Symptomatology

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Thesis Draft Chapter 4- Normativity, Not Normality: Against the Reification of Depressive Symptomatology In this chapter, I apply George Canguelhelm’s critique of positivism to a series of case studies demonstrating the theoretical and practical shortcomings of the chemical imbalance theory as a treatment modality for clinical depression. While the medical model in psychiatry suggests that reversing abnormal brain chemistry by pharmaceuticals corrects depressive symptoms, these case studies explicate Canguelhelm’s critique of the positivist quantity of “normal” as insufficient to account for an objective explanation of depressive pathology. Drawing on his conception of the pathological as a reduction of normativity rather than deviant of statistical normality, I attempt to preserve a holistic concept of depressive symptomatology necessitated by the reification of the chemical imbalance theory in psychiatry. The implications of this perspective as it pertains to the use of psychopharmaceuticals and alternative treatment modalities will be foregrounded and explored in chapter 5. The notion of an individualized chemical imbalance founded in the brain as the explanation of depression, whether it is norepinephrine and serotonin, is a theory which is built on a particular kind of logic that attempts to isolate a causal neurochemical abnormality as giving rise to or generating depressive symptoms. The drugs which are utilize to treat these abnormalities, were shown in the last chapter to be a crucial component in the creation of depressive pathology insofar as they were reasoned or designed to correct them. Within a society that values the biomedical intervention of psychopharmaceuticals in the treatment of depression there is an in... ... middle of paper ... ...ceutical productions which define the pathology itself. In support of the idea that depression expresses a reduced capacity to interact with the environment rather than an abnormality based around an unidentifiable measurement of “chemical balance,” I will argue that the way in which pharmaceutical drugs standardize chemical deviance and treat mental illness like a biological disease disregards the normative component of depressive illnesses which must be considered as a response in one way or another to the environment in which they are experienced by each patient. By thinking about antidepressants not as correctional of a biological pathology but as a form of adaptation, I hope to show how their use must be considered in relation to values which combine scientific, social and experiential components that cannot be explained by scientific means alone.

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