The transition from psy discourse to neurochemical discourse

The psy discourses that took shape across the twentieth century brought into existence a whole new way of relating to ourselves – in terms of neuroses, trauma, unconscious desires, repression, and, of course, the theme of the centrality of sexuality to our psychic life. To say we have become “neurochemical selves” is not to say that this way of relating to ourselves has now displaced or replaced all others: different practices and locales embody and enjoin different sense of selfhood, and the idea that each culture or historical period is characterized by a single way of understanding and relating to ourselves is clearly mistaken. But I suggest that a neurochemical sense of ourselves is increasingly being layered onto other, older sense of the self, and invoked in particular settings and encounters with significant consequences. Individuals themselves and their authorities – general practitioners, nurses, teachers, parents – are beginning to recode variations in moods, emotions, desires, and thoughts in terms of the functioning of their brain chemicals, and to act upon themselves in the light of this belief.

Nikolas Rose, The Politics of Life Itself, Pg 222-223, Princeton University Press

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