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‘I will never love anyone like that again’: cognitive behavioural therapy and the pathologisation and medicalisation of ordinary experiences
  1. Sahanika Ratnayake
  1. Philosophy, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to Sahanika Ratnayake, Philosophy, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK; sahanika.ratnayake{at}cantab.net

Abstract

Psychiatry has a long history of being criticised for the pathologisation and medicalisation of ordinary experiences. One of the most prominent of these critiques is advanced by Allan Horwitz and Jerome Wakefield who argue that instances of ordinary sadness in response to events such as bereavement, heartbreak and misfortune, are being mistakenly diagnosed as depression due to an increasing lack of consideration for aetiology and contextual factors. Critiques concerning pathologisation and medicalisation have not been forthcoming for psychiatry’s close cousin, psychotherapy. Using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, one of the most prominent schools of contemporary psychotherapy as a case study, I demonstrate that psychotherapy also contributes to medicalising and pathologising bereavement, heartbreak and misfortune.

  • medical humanities
  • psychiatry
  • philosophy of medicine/health care
  • psychotherapy

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All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplemental information. All data relevant to the study are included in the article.

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Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplemental information. All data relevant to the study are included in the article.

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Footnotes

  • Twitter @SahanikaR

  • Contributors SR is the sole author of this work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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