Black Dogs and Blue Words: depression and gender in the age of self-care by Kimberly K. Emmons
Publication Date: 2010-03-15
His "black dog"--that was how Winston Churchill referred to his own depression. Today, individuals with feelings of sadness and irritability are encouraged to "talk to your doctor." These have become buzz words in the aggressive promotion of wonder-drug cures since 1997, when the Food and Drug Administration changed its guidelines for the marketing of prescription pharmaceuticals. Black Dogs and Blue Words analyzes the rhetoric surrounding depression. Kimberly K. Emmons maintains that the techniques and language of depression marketing strategies--vague words such as "worry," "irritability," and "loss of interest"--target women and young girls and encourage self-diagnosis and self-medication. Further, depression narratives and other texts encode a series of gendered messages about health and illness. As depression and other forms of mental illness move from the medical-professional sphere into that of the consumer-public, the boundary at which distress becomes disease grows ever more encompassing, the need for remediation and treatment increasingly warranted. Black Dogs and Blue Words demonstrates the need for rhetorical reading strategies as one response to these expanding and gendered illness definitions.