Chemically Imbalanced: Everyday Suffering, Medication, and Our Troubled Quest for Self-Mastery

Chemically Imbalanced: Everyday Suffering, Medication, and Our Troubled Quest for Self-Mastery

by Joseph E. Davis

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Overview

Everyday suffering—those conditions or feelings brought on by trying circumstances that arise in everyone’s lives—is something that humans have grappled with for millennia. But the last decades have seen a drastic change in the way we approach it. In the past, a person going through a time of difficulty might keep a journal or see a therapist, but now the psychological has been replaced by the biological: instead of treating the heart, soul, and mind, we take a pill to treat the brain.

Chemically Imbalanced is a field report on how ordinary people dealing with common problems explain their suffering, how they’re increasingly turning to the thin and mechanistic language of the “body/brain,” and what these encounters might tell us. Drawing on interviews with people dealing with struggles such as underperformance in school or work, grief after the end of a relationship, or disappointment with how their life is unfolding, Joseph E. Davis reveals the profound revolution in consciousness that is underway. We now see suffering as an imbalance in the brain that needs to be fixed, usually through chemical means. This has rippled into our social and cultural conversations, and it has affected how we, as a society, imagine ourselves and envision what constitutes a good life. Davis warns that what we envision as a neurological revolution, in which suffering is a mechanistic problem, has troubling and entrapping consequences. And he makes the case that by turning away from an interpretive, meaning-making view of ourselves, we thwart our chances to enrich our souls and learn important truths about ourselves and the social conditions under which we live.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226686714
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 03/10/2020
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Joseph E. Davis is research professor of sociology and moderator of the picturing the human colloquy of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Accounts of Innocence: Sexual Abuse, Trauma, and the Self, also from the University of Chicago Press, and coeditor, most recently, of To Fix or to Heal: Patient Care, Public Health, and the Limits of Biomedicine and The Evening of Life: The Challenges of Aging and Dying Well.

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
One / The Neurobiological Imaginary
Two / The Biologization of Everyday Suffering
Three / Appropriating Disorder
Four / Resisting Differentness
Five / Seeking Viable Selfhood
Six / After Psychology
Conclusion / A Crisis of the Spirit
  Acknowledgments
Appendix
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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