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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 14888

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

Clarke J, Gawley A.
The Triumph of Pharmaceuticals: The Portrayal of Depression from 1980 to 2005.
Adm Policy Ment Health. 2008 Dec 20;


This paper reports on a study of the media portrayal of depression in all of the 98 articles recovered from high circulating magazines directed towards diverse audiences in Canada and the US from 1980 to 2005. Through qualitative analysis of manifest and latent messages the paper compares stories from the 1980s with those from the 1990s and 2000s with respect to how they answer the following questions about depression: What is it? Where is it? Who gets it? What can or should be done about it? It also looks at the use of metaphors, the deployment of celebrities as representatives of depression and the links made with physical illness. The answers to all questions document a trend over time towards a reductionistic and bio-medicalized notion of depression. Depression moved from a problem explained in a variety of ways in the 1980s to a primarily bio-medical phenomenon in mass magazines in the 1990s and 2000s. Theoretical explanations and practical consequences at the individual, therapeutic and societal levels are considered.


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