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Sedated: How Modern Capitalism Created our Mental Health Crisis

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This book blew my mind. It articulated and answered so many of the questions that have been swirling around in the brain about mental health for years.

Politics of Distress: A Discussion With Dr. James Davies The Politics of Distress: A Discussion With Dr. James Davies

As medicalisation and commodification have occurred apace, they have also hastened the widespread depoliticisation of distress. Although we all live in a sea of social determinants that inextricably shape our experience, our mental health sector has only played theoretical lip service to the fundamentally social nature of distress. Instead, hypothesised dysfunctions that purportedly reside between our ears have become the principle target of its interventions. And this privatisation of woe has generated a culture highly advantageous to current corporate, economic and governmental arrangements.La tesis principal de Davies es que el neoliberalismo impulsado por Tatcher en la década de los 80 caló cambiando la cultura y la mentalidad de la población, inculcando ciertos valores que le son funcionales al sistema capitalista, tales como el materialismo o el individualismo, despolitizando y patologizando los problemas de salud mental. Así, el autor apuesta por un origen sociogénico a la actual ola de salud mental, y reivindica la necesidad de poner el foco en las causas estructurales (el sistema) y no sólo coyunturales (la pandemia, la guerra).

Sedated by James Davies eBook | Perlego [PDF] Sedated by James Davies eBook | Perlego

I have been on antidepressants continually for the last 5 years, and I do find that they help me - whether that’s a placebo effect or not, I don’t know, but I’m fairly sure that they help. That said, it does worry me how easy it is to get these drugs. When I first started taking them I had a 10 minute appointment with a doctor that didn’t know me, and I left with a prescription for fluoxetine. The appointment wasn’t long enough to go into the upheaval and trauma I’d recently experienced in my life, and I was automatically given drugs to ‘alleviate my symptoms’.This is the first book I've read that examines mental health in a sociopolitical context, and it was a breath of fresh air. Last year, I had a video appointment with my new primary care doctor because I was dealing with burnout and depression from severe job stress. Five minutes into the call, the doctor told me she would write me a prescription for antidepressants. I'd never met this doctor before, she didn't know anything about my life or the circumstances that led me to feel depressed and burned out—yet she was happy to give me a prescription for psychiatric drugs within minutes. Since the 1980s medications for mental health have increased by 400% with large numbers of people now on medication. But when you look at how a drug is approved there are an awful lot of flaws in the process of allowing a drug to be marketed and passed for use. For example there may be one positive clinical trial that can be accepted and submitted whilst admitting three negative trials that showed a drug not working can be excluded. It's also worth noting that on certain drug trials it might not necessarily be the best treatment but a form of treatment can be used on someone who might have a response or reaction to a far superior form of medicine. However, when these medicines are prescribed it is not for that reason but more probably to do with the fact that it has been marketed well even though the evidence is not robust and that it is also cheaper than a superior medicine which would be more effective in regards to treatment of mental health problems and conditions.

How Modern Capitalism Created our Mental Health Crisis - LinkedIn How Modern Capitalism Created our Mental Health Crisis - LinkedIn

People with much more wealth and a higher status tend to be much less kinder in their attitude to others than people who have a low status position. The idea behind this is that people who are selfish or better paid tend to be more selfish in their approaches and behaviours to others. These ideas gave rise to a theory of materialism in that people who were more wealthy or a higher status tended to cheat more and find ways obtain things that people of low status weren't so bothered about. But people of high status and more wealth, also gave rise to a certain level of unhappiness. One example of this is that people with low status could be given the idea that they were a high status person and they then showed changes in their behaviour to seek more in the way of material goods and wealth. The main argument is that people who are wealthy tend to be more selfish but maybe that's part of why they have become wealthy. Many of these people who are obsessed by materialistic wealth goods often get something but as soon as the item has been bought they lose interest and seek something else. I generally believe that the love of money and the desire to have more and more of it is actually another kind of addiction in a similar way that someone might be addicted to heroin or gambling. The idea that we have infinite power over our lives and fates, while initially seductive and uplifting for some, often leads to acute disappointment when things go wrong. Persuading people they have more power than they do and ignoring the real barriers to attainment primes them for self-blame when reality fails to deliver.


Davies’ book is a powerful and incredibly sobering examination of just how much damage modern capitalism and ‘big pharma’ companies have done to our global mental health. The intimate relationship between mental health and social conditions has largely been obscured, with societal causes interpreted within a bio-medical framework and shrouded with scientific terminology. Diagnoses frequently begin and end with the individual, identifying bioessentialist causes at the expense of examining social factors. However, the social, political, and economic organization of society must be recognized as a significant contributor to people’s mental health, with certain social structures being more advantageous to the emergence of mental well-being than others. As the basis on which society’s superstructural formation is erected, capitalism is a major determinant of poor mental health. As the Marxist professor of social work and social policy Iain Ferguson has argued, "it is the economic and political system under which we live—capitalism—which is responsible for the enormously high levels of mental health problems which we see in the world today." The alleviation of mental distress is only possible “in a society without exploitation and oppression."

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