by Larry Monocello
One of the many strengths of this article is the author’s attention to ethnographic work on depression. Referencing anthropologists work on depression cross-culturally, she shows that the experience of depression is culturally constructed. She explains how, in some cultures that valorize instead of marginalize the depressed (e.g., Gaines and Farmer’s (1986) work on the Visible Saints of France), outcomes and experience are different. She argues that the biomedical/psychiatric model of depression is disempowering to women for that very reason: the culture around depression is hostile, and yet the culture is not considered in the model, erasing a very real factor from consideration. As a result, she calls for a truly biopsychosocial model of depression to address this flaw.
Importantly, Neitzke notes that her criticism of the biomedical psychiatric model of depression as erasing the consideration of gender can also be extended to considering the erasure of sexuality and race/ethnicity. This made me consider a couple of questions that I would like to leave up for discussion:
Over the course of the semester—aside from our discussion of poverty—we haven’t spent much time discussing the experience of marginalized groups (sexual and racial minorities, women, etc.). Critically considering the topics of past discussions, how do you think that the utilization of a feminist or racially-sensitive lens would affect our interpretations of what we have read thus far?
Is a feminist/racial/queer neuroanthropology necessary? Is it even possible? What would it look like?
Neitzke, Alex B. 2016. "An Illness of Power: Gender and the Social Causes of Depression." Culture Medicine and Psychiatry 40 (1):59-73. doi: 10.1007/s11013-015-9466-3.