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Being BrainsMaking the Cerebral Subject$
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Fernando Vidal and Francisco Ortega

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780823276073

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823276073.001.0001

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Cerebralizing Distress

Cerebralizing Distress

(p.130) Three Cerebralizing Distress
Being Brains

Fernando Vidal

Francisco Ortega

Fordham University Press

The chapter explores the cerebralization of psychological distress. The psychopharmacological revolution took place in the 1950s. Later on, the nosological biologization of mental disorders received a crucial impetus when DSM III opened the way to redescribing in neurological terms disorders such as schizophrenia, autism and depression. Behaviors previously considered merely awkward, such as shyness, or seen as having a major social component, like alcoholism or obesity, have become predominantly neurological conditions. The chapter provides an overview of such a situation, as well as a more detailed examination of the cerebralization of depression, which is a particularly complex cultural and biopolitical phenomenon. It shall also explore the consequences of the cerebralizing trend for the constitution of “forms of living.” While biological psychiatry has been criticized as dehumanizing, it has also contributed to free patients and families from blame and stigma. Insofar as a problem resides within the brain, the individual bears no guilt; though organic, the disorder is externalized relatively to the person’s identity. This sustained a “neurodiversity” movement, led by high-functioning autistics who believe that their condition is not a disease to be treated and, if possible, cured, but rather a human specificity to be respected like other forms of difference.

Keywords:   autism, biological psychiatry, depression, mental disorder, neurodiversity

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