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The Ethical Treatment of DepressionAutonomy through Psychotherapy$
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Paul Biegler

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262015493

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262015493.001.0001

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Depression: Disorder of Affect, Disorder of Autonomy

Depression: Disorder of Affect, Disorder of Autonomy

(p.65) 4 Depression: Disorder of Affect, Disorder of Autonomy
The Ethical Treatment of Depression

Paul Biegler

The MIT Press

This chapter presents arguments showing how depression undermines personal autonomy. Although it is widely accepted that depression alters the sufferer’s worldview, this chapter focuses on the nature and mechanism of skewed perception in depression, so that the differential effects of psychotherapy and antidepressant medication (ADM) on autonomy can later be dissected and examined. Failing to understand depressed affect as a reinforcer of confounding pessimistic beliefs, even if negative biases are acknowledged as a primary threat to autonomy, further sets back autonomy. Also, stressors can give rise to depressive episodes; information linking stressful life events to depression is likely to be significant to the afflicted person. This link is obscured by the fact that considering depression as a primary disorder of brain chemistry deters the elucidation and management of stressors and that negative attributions warp the assessment of stressors by overemphasizing personal inadequacies.

Keywords:   depression, personal autonomy, skewed perception, psychotherapy, ADM, negative biases, stressors, brain chemistry

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