Do Antidepressants Affect the Self? A Phenomenological Approach
Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 2007 June; 10(2): 153-166
In this paper, I explore the questions of how and to what extent new antidepressants (selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs) could possibly affect the self. I do this by way of a phenomenological approach, using the works of Martin Heidegger and Thomas Fuchs to analyze the roles of attunement and embodiment in normal and abnormal ways of being-in-the-world. The nature of depression and anxiety disorders - the diagnoses for which treatment with antidepressants is most commonly indicated - is also explored by way of this phenomenological approach, as are the basic structures of self-being. Special attention is paid in the analysis to the moods of boredom, anxiety and grief, since they play fundamental roles in depression and anxiety disorders and since their intensity and frequency appear to be modulated by antidepressants. My conclusion is that the effect of these drugs on the self can be thought of in terms of changes in self-feeling, or, more precisely, self-vibration of embodiment. I present the idea of a spectrum of bodily resonance, which extends from the normal resonance of the lived body, in which the body is able to pick up a wide range of different moods; continuing over various kinds of sensitivities, preferences and idiosyncrasies, in which certain moods are favored over others; to cases that we unreservedly label pathologies, in which the body is severely out of tune, or even devoid of tune and thus useless as a tool of resonance. Different cultures and societies favor slightly differently attuned self-styles as paradigmatic of the normal and good life, and the popularity of the SSRIs can therefore be explained, not only by defects of embodiment, but also by the presence of certain cultural norms in our contemporary society.
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Svenaeus, Fredrik (2009-05)This paper explores the differences between bringing about self-change by way of antidepressants versus psychotherapy from an ethical point of view, taking its starting point in the concept of authenticity. Given that the ...