This paper explores how distinctions between ‘intended’ and ‘side’ effects are troubled in personal narratives of taking psychotropic medications. Grounded in interviews with 29 participants diagnosed with mental illness in Victoria, Australia between February and December 2014, we consider how people interpret pharmaceutical compounds beyond their desired or intended effects, and how such effects shape and transform subjectivity and their relationship with their bodies. This paper contributes to recent discussions of mental illness and medication effects, informed by feminist science studies. It emphasises the co-constitution of social, affective and material relations in the context of ‘taking’ psychotropic medication. This paper discusses three key themes as important to the phenomenology of the nexus of illness and psychotropic medication: movement, ambivalence, and sociality. Our analysis demonstrates how psychotropic drugs are productive of subjectivity through their promises and potential, their unexpected harms and the institutions from which they are inseparable.
Social Science & Medicine – Elsevier
Published: Jun 1, 2019
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