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Accepted Paper:

SSRI-Human Entanglements: On Becoming with Antidepressants  
Javier García Martínez (University of Warwick and Monash University)

Paper Short Abstract:

This digital ethnography explores the multiple entanglements between humans and SSRI antidepressants, providing a comprehensive understanding of the ontological displacements emerging in both human lived experiences and SSRI ontologies as 'pharmakon'—shifting as technologies of care and/or harm.

Paper Abstract:

While biomedical research has extensively explored the quantitative effectiveness of antidepressants and the social sciences have focused on pharmacological markets, ethnographic approaches to lived experiences with antidepressants are limited. This project addresses the unexplored lacunae of the lived experiences with antidepressants, emphasizing the need for a nuanced understanding into how SSRI antidepressants can produce both care and harm.

To investigate the lived experiences and transformative impact of SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant treatment on people’s daily practices, I engage with grassroots online mental health support communities through digital ethnographies. Specifically selecting semi-public English-speaking communities on the 'Discord' social platform dedicated to mental health peer support, the methodology emphasizes active participation from the researcher following a framework that brings together digital ethnography, praxiography, and auto-ethnography. This includes ethnographic interviews and workshops to collectively produce and think with digital media representing the lived experiences of SSRIs.

This study explores the intricate entanglements between humans and SSRIs, offering a comprehensive understanding of the ontological displacements arising from these human-SSRI relationships as ‘pharmakon’, as well as the role of SSRIs as a technological intervention. The preliminary findings of the fieldwork contribute to an understanding of the SSRI-human entanglement as multiple ontological displacements, including examples such as emotional blunting, loss of libido, transformed bodily experiences, and a conflicted sense of self—among the various changes associated with taking antidepressants on the human side. Simultaneously, these entanglements transform the ontology of antidepressants, shifting their ontologies as either medicine or poison, a technologies of care or harm.

Panel OP115
Health and more-than-human entanglements
  Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -