Darian Leader

Darian Leader on the Marketing of Depression

Darian Leader is a British psychoanalyst and author who studied philosophy in Cambridge and then history of science in Paris, where he also trained as an analyst. He is a founding member of the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research (CFAR), President of the College of Psychoanalysts, a Trustee of the Freud Museum, and Honorary Visiting Professor in Psychoanalysis at Roehampton University.

Great interview in which Leader discusses mourning, the importance of the arts, and how the marketing of the diagnosis of depression was created by the pharmaceutical industry:

  • “What we’ve seen in the last 40-50 years is that the definition of depression has moved from quite a complicated theory of the human psyche, to one which is simply defined in terms of what drugs people respond to – so the drugs have created the market. The malaise of urban populations needed to find a chemical remedy, and there were billions of dollars to be made from that.”
  • “But there’s always a story behind the symptoms.”
  • “We fall ill instead of remembering”
  • “We’re always pushed to not think about losses, to get over losses, with this absurd idea that if we lose someone through separation or death we have to replace them, find someone else – and of course, how can you ever replace someone you’ve loved? You can’t. Rather, it’s a question of finding a way to make their absence a part of your life: what can you do with your loss, rather than how can you replace it.”
  • “And so the people crying at Lady Di’s death – the tears were absolutely genuine – they just weren’t for her. The public spectacle of the loss was what allowed people to access for a moment, temporarily, their own grief about other things.”
  • “We live in an era in which arts funding is being cut, on a weekly basis … the arts are considered unimportant; yet they’re incredibly important in that they can show people how making and creating can take place  … and showing that we can build something, that we can create something, from an experience of loss – rather than trying to replace something, or get rid of it, or not think about it – but that you can actually do something with it, in however modest a way.”
  • “There’s still an appetite for an easy solution – for a solution that allows you not to think, and not to speak  – because we live basically in an age where there’s no longer room for the complexity and contradiction at the heart of human life.”
  • “We live in a culture where the emphasis is on the idea of the self as a unified agency, which is one-dimensional.”

His most recent books include: What is Madness?; The New Black: Mourning, Melancholia and DepressionWhy Do Women Write More Letters Than They Post?; Promises Lovers Make When It Gets Late; Stealing the Mona Lisa: What Art Stops us from Seeing; Why Do People Get Ill?: Exploring the Mind-body Connection (with David Corfield); Strictly Bipolar; and Introducing Lacan: A Graphic Guide (with Judy Groves)

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