Alain Ehrenberg

Tired of Being Oneself Publication date : February 7, 2008

Most of the personal difficulties encountered in daily life — fatigue, inhibitions, insomnia, anxiety and indecision — are now generally considered to be symptomatic of depression. Why has depression become so widespread? Examining the history of psychiatry in the light of changing lifestyles, Alain Ehrenberg reaches the tentative conclusion that depression is inherent in a society in which the norm has ceased to be founded on guilt and discipline, and is instead based on responsibility and personal initiative. Depression is the counterpart to the energy that we must each mobilise in order to become ourselves. Perhaps depression serves above all to reveal changes in the individual.

Alain Ehrenberg, a sociologist, directs a research unit, “Psychotropic Drugs, Politics and Society”, at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). La Fatigue d'être soi is the third in a three-part series aiming to define contemporary character types. He is the author of La Maladie mentale en mutation and the co-author (with Anne M. Lovell) of Psychiatrie et société.