Books

Alain Ehrenberg’s The Weariness of the Self




This post is from Anne M. Lovell




Alain Ehrenberg‘s sociological bestseller, La Fatigue d’être soi, is finally out in English, under the title, The Weariness of the Self: Diagnosing the History of Depression in the Contemporary Age, and with a preface by Allan Young.

From the Press:

“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 depression is far more difficult than a simple diagnostic distinction between normal and pathological sadness – the one constant in the history of depression is its changing definition. Drawing on the accumulated knowledge of a lifetime devoted to the study of the individual in modern democratic society, Ehrenberg shows that the phenomenon of modern depression is not a construction of the pharmaceutical industry but a pathology arising from inadequacy in a social context where success is attributed to, and expected of, the autonomous individual. In so doing, he provides both a novel and convincing description of the illness that clarifies the intertwining relationship between its diagnostic history and changes in social norms and values. The first book to offer both a global sociological view of contemporary depression and a detailed description of psychiatric reasoning and its transformation – from the invention of electroshock therapy to mass consumption of Prozac – The Weariness of the Self offers a compelling exploration of depression as social fact”

Alain Ehrenberg is a sociologist, the director of CESAMES (Research Center on Mental Health, Psychotropics and Society, Paris Descartes University), senior researcher at CNRS, and the author of several books on contemporary individualism.

One Response to Alain Ehrenberg’s The Weariness of the Self

  1. Pingback: From Nature/Culture to Culturally-Dominated Nature: A Spring Conference Overview | Somatosphere

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