Depressive disorders and contemporary capitalism

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This article aims to show how the evolution of psychiatric nosology of depression may to relate to certain requirements of contemporary capitalism. First, we investigate the conceptions of depressive disorders from the third edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals of Mental Disorders (DSM), which established the current psychiatric paradigm, focusing especially on the last two versions (DSM-IV and DSM-5). Along with International Classification of Diseases by WHO, the recent editions of manual are the main classification systems of psychiatry, guiding clinical practice and conceptually basing the current idea of depressive epidemic. Then we show how the economic theory of human capital, developed by neoliberal economists of the Chicago School, becomes a social value that, widely accepted and disseminated, guides the conduct of life of individuals in advanced liberal societies and in Third World societies. Therefore, we affirm that the systematic ramification and flexibility of depressive disorders, which establish as pathological subtle forms of suffering, correspond to logic of intensification of performance of certain individual capacities indispensable to contemporary capitalism.




Corbanezi, E. (2018). Depressive disorders and contemporary capitalism. Caderno CRH, 31(83), 335–353.

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