It is hard to deny that contemporary society is becoming increasingly medicalized. Mental health is likely the most medicalized sphere. The pathologization of emotions is entangled with the rise of a therapeutic culture. This article proposes the hypothesis that apps used to self-track different aspects of mental health and wellbeing represent a peculiar kind of pedagogical tool and a new engine of medicalization. The “quantified self” acts on reality with the conviction that a data-driven life can enhance one’s health status. The mechanisms that foster this attitude are gamification and quantification – two central features of mental health apps. We seek to demonstrate this through a content analysis of six of the most downloaded mental health apps focused on two different kinds of texts: the description provided by the app itself and the reviews written by its users. Our investigation reveals that these types of apps are giving rise to an idea of the subject which is separated from social factors. This de-policitization of health brought about by the apps strengthens the neoliberal idea of health as an individual responsibility, marginalizing any discourse on social justice. Therefore, this kind of health education appears at best ambiguous, if not controversial.
An Ambiguous Health Education: The Quantified Self and the Medicalization of the Mental Sphere
Mori L., Maturo A., Moretti V. (2016) "An Ambiguous Health Education: The Quantified Self and the Medicalization of the Mental Sphere " Italian Journal of Sociology of Education, 8(3), 248-268. DOI: 10.14658/PUPJ-IJSE-2016-3-12
Year of Publication
Italian Journal of Sociology of Education
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