Disability and Depression

Cvetkovich, Ann; Wilkerson, Abby
Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

Here, Ann Cvetkovich, interviewed by Abby Wilkerson, brings Cvetkovich’s influential cultural studies analysis of depression explicitly into conversation with disability studies. Cvetkovich understands “feeling bad” (a term she prefers to “depression”) as a defining affective state under neoliberalism. Drawing on a distinctive historical/cultural archive, she challenges the atomism of the neoliberal medical model that frames depression and affective distress more generally as the result of faulty brain chemistry—individual organisms gone awry. Instead, she traces these common experiences to sociopolitical phenomena ranging from current neoliberal demands for productivity as exemplified in university life, to histories of colonization, slavery, and displacement. The conversation considers the value of disability frameworks for understanding mental health diagnoses and the intersections of social institutions, bodily practices, and everyday affective life.