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Aaron Neiman

Aaron Neiman
Mon May 22nd 2023, 9:00 - 11:00am
Event Sponsor
Department of Anthropology
Building 40, Room 40-42A

Therapy Without Therapists: An Ethnographic Study of e-Mental Health in Australia

Recent years have seen profound changes to popular understanding of mental health. New discourses emphasize the need to seek support for one’s interior struggles, casting “mental health” as a discrete thing which “everyone has.” Concurrent with this less pathological conception of the psyche has been a shift towards computerized therapy programs which blur the line between lifestyle adjustment and medical intervention. I conceive of these new digitally mediated programs, which obscure or altogether replace the human therapist, as “therapy without therapists.” This ethnography considers the deployment of these e-mental health programs across a variety of contexts in Australia, where they enjoy public funding as part of a broad government campaign to promote mental wellness at the population level. I show that behind these e-mental health programs are real human beings subject to material social conditions and to the real endogenous power of the psyche. This dissertation argues for a new approach to the changing politics of mental health, one which is attentive to both realities.

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