Bodily saturation and social disconnectedness in depression

Phenomenology and Mind 21:48-61 (2021)
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Individuals suffering from depression consistently report experiencing a lack of connectedness with others. David Karp (2017, 73), in his memoir and study of depression, has gone so far to describe depression as “an illness of isolation, a disease of disconnectedness”. It has become common, in phenomenological circles, to attribute this social impairment to the depressed individual experiencing their body as corporealized, acting as a barrier between them and the world around them (Fuchs 2005, 2016). In this paper, I offer an alternative view of the experience of social disconnectedness in depression, suggesting that rather than necessarily experiencing their body as object-like, the depressed individual’s bodily is saturated with experiences of lethargy, tiredness, heaviness, sadness, hopelessness and so on, to the exclusion of being able to bodily connect to others. I suggest that depression does not involve a complete social impairment but a specific impairment of affective forms of interpersonal experience.

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Lucy Osler
Cardiff University


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