Depression memoirs serve as distinct loci of intersection of cultural assumptions about women and about psychiatric disability. Two potentially distressing results of this collision occur. First, depressed women are more often depicted (than are depressed men) as realizing their disability with neediness. Second, depressed women are less often portrayed (than are depressed men) as taking advantage of reinterpretations of extreme mental states as gateways to creativity. Not only do these two themes within memoirs offer evidence of larger cultural sexist and sanist trends, but they can have concrete effects on readers’ very selves. Specifically, using narrative theories of self-constitution, we argue that depression memoirs can serve as outer narratives that influence readers’ self-narratives, and hence the constitution of their selves. Furthermore, such altered self-constitutions can materially affect readers’ experiences of depression as a psychiatric disability and their possibilities for flourishing in the world.


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pp. 285-298
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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