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Taking it out on the body? : A phenomenological study of young adults’ gendered experiences of antidepressant use

Sandell, Kerstin LU and Bornäs, Hanna (2016) In NORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research 24(4). p.251-266
Abstract (Swedish)
In this article, we use in-depth interviews with young adults in Sweden to explore the gendered and embodied experiences of depression and antidepressant use. Building upon previous phenomenological research, we analyse being depressed and on antidepressants as altered embodied states, in which corporealization—experiencing the body as a material object—is central. Feminist interventions by Toril Moi and Iris Marion Young inform our analysis of embodiment as gendered. The bodily facets of depression include the weight of the anxious body in crying and not sleeping, as well as the weakened or distorted relationship between body, mind and world in brooding thoughts and hopelessness. These experiences of corporealization are not expressed in... (More)
In this article, we use in-depth interviews with young adults in Sweden to explore the gendered and embodied experiences of depression and antidepressant use. Building upon previous phenomenological research, we analyse being depressed and on antidepressants as altered embodied states, in which corporealization—experiencing the body as a material object—is central. Feminist interventions by Toril Moi and Iris Marion Young inform our analysis of embodiment as gendered. The bodily facets of depression include the weight of the anxious body in crying and not sleeping, as well as the weakened or distorted relationship between body, mind and world in brooding thoughts and hopelessness. These experiences of corporealization are not expressed in gendered terms but, when acted out in depression, they do appear to be gendered. The female body becomes “the first battleground”—as the socially endorsed object upon which to act destructively. In contrast, male behaviour is not expressed as selfdestructive, but projects in the world are emphasized at the cost of (bodily) well-being. Although antidepressants lift the corporeal weight of anxiety and low mood, they install a new, and in some respects more profound, corporealization of the body. This is expressed as feeling and caring less and being like a thing or machine. It can be understood in terms of an increased distance from the world—not articulated in gendered terms. As a way of existing in the world, the medicated state bears strong similarities to the depressed state from which it was originally an effort to escape. Thus, taking medication can be seen as yet another way of acting on the body as object. Furthermore, it could be suggested from our findings that when the body is not felt—when there is a breakdown of the meaningful relationship between the body and the world—the experience is less gendered. (Less)
Abstract
In this article, we use in-depth interviews with young adults in Sweden to explore the gendered and embodied experiences of depression and antidepressant use. Building upon previous phenomenological research, we analyse being depressed and on antidepressants as altered embodied states, in which corporealization—experiencing the body as a material object—is central. Feminist interventions by Toril Moi and Iris Marion Young inform our analysis of embodiment as gendered. The bodily facets of depression include the weight of the anxious body in crying and not sleeping, as well as the weakened or distorted relationship between body, mind and world in brooding thoughts and hopelessness. These experiences of corporealization are not expressed in... (More)
In this article, we use in-depth interviews with young adults in Sweden to explore the gendered and embodied experiences of depression and antidepressant use. Building upon previous phenomenological research, we analyse being depressed and on antidepressants as altered embodied states, in which corporealization—experiencing the body as a material object—is central. Feminist interventions by Toril Moi and Iris Marion Young inform our analysis of embodiment as gendered. The bodily facets of depression include the weight of the anxious body in crying and not sleeping, as well as the weakened or distorted relationship between body, mind and world in brooding thoughts and hopelessness. These experiences of corporealization are not expressed in gendered terms but, when acted out in depression, they do appear to be gendered. The female body becomes “the first battleground”—as the socially endorsed object upon which to act destructively. In contrast, male behaviour is not expressed as self-destructive, but projects in the world are emphasized at the cost of (bodily) well-being. Although antidepressants lift the corporeal weight of anxiety and low mood, they install a new, and in some respects more profound, corporealization of the body. This is expressed as feeling and caring less and being like a thing or machine. It can be understood in terms of an increased distance from the world—not articulated in gendered terms. As a way of existing in the world, the medicated state bears strong similarities to the depressed state from which it was originally an effort to escape. Thus, taking medication can be seen as yet another way of acting on the body as object. Furthermore, it could be suggested from our findings that when the body is not felt—when there is a breakdown of the meaningful relationship between the body and the world—the experience is less gendered. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Antidepressants, SNRI, SSRI, young adults, Sweden, corporealization, embodied experience, phenomenology, gender, depression
in
NORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research
volume
24
issue
4
pages
251 - 266
publisher
Taylor & Francis
external identifiers
  • scopus:85014940969
  • wos:000395719400004
ISSN
0803-8740
DOI
10.1080/08038740.2017.1292313
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
cdf46178-5126-400d-bda3-ffcce3ee2ab1
date added to LUP
2017-03-15 15:39:21
date last changed
2017-09-18 11:32:38
@article{cdf46178-5126-400d-bda3-ffcce3ee2ab1,
  abstract     = {In this article, we use in-depth interviews with young adults in Sweden to explore the gendered and embodied experiences of depression and antidepressant use. Building upon previous phenomenological research, we analyse being depressed and on antidepressants as altered embodied states, in which corporealization—experiencing the body as a material object—is central. Feminist interventions by Toril Moi and Iris Marion Young inform our analysis of embodiment as gendered. The bodily facets of depression include the weight of the anxious body in crying and not sleeping, as well as the weakened or distorted relationship between body, mind and world in brooding thoughts and hopelessness. These experiences of corporealization are not expressed in gendered terms but, when acted out in depression, they do appear to be gendered. The female body becomes “the first battleground”—as the socially endorsed object upon which to act destructively. In contrast, male behaviour is not expressed as self-destructive, but projects in the world are emphasized at the cost of (bodily) well-being. Although antidepressants lift the corporeal weight of anxiety and low mood, they install a new, and in some respects more profound, corporealization of the body. This is expressed as feeling and caring less and being like a thing or machine. It can be understood in terms of an increased distance from the world—not articulated in gendered terms. As a way of existing in the world, the medicated state bears strong similarities to the depressed state from which it was originally an effort to escape. Thus, taking medication can be seen as yet another way of acting on the body as object. Furthermore, it could be suggested from our findings that when the body is not felt—when there is a breakdown of the meaningful relationship between the body and the world—the experience is less gendered.},
  author       = {Sandell, Kerstin and Bornäs, Hanna},
  issn         = {0803-8740},
  keyword      = {Antidepressants,SNRI,SSRI, young adults,Sweden,corporealization,embodied experience,phenomenology,gender,depression},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {251--266},
  publisher    = {Taylor & Francis},
  series       = {NORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research},
  title        = {Taking it out on the body? : A phenomenological study of young adults’ gendered experiences of antidepressant use},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08038740.2017.1292313},
  volume       = {24},
  year         = {2016},
}