Chemically Imbalanced argues that among ordinary people there has been a growing shift away from a psychological (or psychosocial) way of imaging self and suffering in terms of mental life and interpersonal experience, and toward more “neurobiological” intuitions, assumptions, and meanings. In providing an overview of the argument, the introduction spells out the concepts of “everyday suffering” and the “predicaments” that suffering places people in. These concepts are necessary because the common psychiatric language of mental disorder and diagnostic categories like depression and social anxiety renders the background ideas and ideals that both informed and shaped meaning for sufferers invisible. This background involved questions of social norms, moral ideals, and philosophical anthropology—the type of self that it is good to be. In order to interpret what participants said about their experience and how it figured in their interpretations, this background has to be brought into view. In so doing, the appeal, practical and moral, of the neurobiological imaginary will come into progressively clearer focus over the course of the book, along with some of its many troubling consequences.
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