Alexander Barnard

Summer 2015

Despite epidemiological studies showing that both the United States and France have high and increasing levels of depression, data show that its distribution, categorization, and treatment differ in ways that cannot be explained through a medical lens. This dissertation examines this disparity, considering how uneven institutional developments across the Western world promote certain social constructions and distributions of mental illness. I am interested particularly in the role of political factors in explaining this difference, such as the decline of the asylum, rise of patients’ movements, and restructuring of welfare systems. The overall goal of this project is to reveal linkages between state structures and health, bridge competing literatures on the social construction and determination of illness, and contribute to debates about the dilemmas of the modern self.