Defining Depression: Endogenous Materialities, Exogenous Immaterialities



Paraules clau:

STS, controversy mapping, digital ethnography, defining depression, sociology of emotions, pragmatical turn


Definitions are narratives in action, implying a need to track down the ontology of what is defined. In
this case, we explore the mutual tension and/or symbiosis (with consonant and dissonant spaces)
arising from the definition of depression. We approach the term ‘depression’ as a controversial
subject, mapping a comparison between lay and expert narratives on the malaise, and making
use of digital ethnography as the methodology. A self-administered online open questionnaire was
completed with the definitions of 29 lay respondents. In addition, expert narratives were gathered
with the definitions of 9 health institutions’ web sites, and public mediation forums. Definitions
echoed from both spaces, with splits between biological materiality and psychological-social
immateriality, with a reiteration of the division between exogeneity and endogeneity, respectively.
Here, the emotiveness of the subject can be seen as stemming from the sum of reductionisms
and cumulative factors as to what depression is. Finally, we consider other possible ontologies
of depression that either: (1) take socio-material assemblies into account or (2) follow the
pragmatical turn, defining depression in action. This research opens new approaches towards
identifying external materialities, shifting the blame from the diagnosis of the individual towards
the mechanisms that spawn harmful relationships.


Les dades de descàrrega encara no estan disponibles.

Biografia de l'autor/a

Javier García-Martínez, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Degree in Sociology (Complutense University of Madrid (UCM), 2018) and Master in Socio-cultural Analysis of Knowledge and Communication (Complutense University of Madrid, 2019). He specialises in the intersections between: the Sociology of the Body and Emotions; studies in Science, Technology and Society; digital ethnographic approaches.


Ahmed, S. (2012). The cultural politics of emotion. New York and London: Routledge.

Álvaro-Estramiana, J. L., Garrido-Luque, A. and Schweiger-Gallo, I. (2010). Causas sociales de la depresión: Una

revisión crítica del modelo atributivo de la depresión. Revista Internacional de Sociología, 68(2), 333-348.

Anscombre, J. C. (1995). Théorie des topoï: Sémantique ou rhétorique? Paris: Editions Kimé.

Asberg, M., Thoren, P., Traskman, L., Bertilsson, L. and Ringberger, V. (1976). “Serotonin depression”: A biochemical

subgroup within the affective disorders? Science, 191 (4226), 478-480.

Beck, A. T., Ward, C., Mendelson, M., Mock, J. and Erbaugh, J. (1961). Beck depression inventory (BDI). Archives of

General Psychiatry, 4(6), 561-571.

Beck, A. T., Rush, A. J., Shaw, B. F. and Emery, G. (1985). Terapia cognitiva de la depresión. Bilbao: Desclée de Brower.

Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A. and Brown, G. K. (1996). Beck depression inventory II. San Antonio, 78(2), 490-498.

Berk, M., Williams, L. J., Jacka, F. N., O’Neil, A., Pasco, J. A., Moylan, S., Allen, N. B, Stuart, A. L., Hayley, A. C.,

Byrne, M. L. and Maes, M. (2013). So depression is an inflammatory disease, but where does the inflammation

come from? BMC Medicine, 11(1), Issue 200.

Callon, M. (1984). Some elements of a sociology of translation: Domestication of the scallops and the fishermen

of St Brieuc Bay. The Sociological Review, 32(1_suppl), 196-233.

Castaño, A. (1st February 2018). Una de cada cinco. [Consulted: 15th February 2019] https://www.eldiario.


Cefaï, D. (2012). ¿Qué es una arena pública? Algunas pautas para un acercamiento pragmático. (Trans. Mariela

Hemilse Acevedo). In [Consulted: 15th February 2019]

Dantzer, R., O’Connor, J. C., Freund, G. G., Johnson, R. W. and Kelley, K. W. (2008). From inflammation to sickness

and depression: When the immune system subjugates the brain. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(1), 46-56.

Dantzer, R., O’Connor, J. C., Lawson, M. A. and Kelley, K. W. (2011). Inflammation-associated depression: From

serotonin to kynurenine. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 36(3), 426-436.

Dilthey, W. (1944). El mundo histórico. Mexico: Fondo de Cultura.

Dooley, D., Catalano, R. and Wilson, G. (1994). Depression and unemployment: Panel findings from the Epidemiologic

Catchment Area study. American Journal of Community Psychology, 22(6), 745-765.

Ducrot, O. (1988). Topoï et formes topiques. Bulletin d’études de linguistique française, 22(1), 1-14.

Eley, T. C., Sugden, K., Corsico, A., Gregory, A. M., Sham, P., McGuffin, P., Plomin, R. and Craig, I. W. (2004).

Gene–environment interaction analysis of serotonin system markers with adolescent depression. Molecular

Psychiatry, 9(10), 908-915.

Fernando, S. (1984). Racism as a cause of depression. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 30(1-2), 41-49.

Fisher, M. (2009). Capitalist realism: Is there no alternative? Winchester: John Hunt Publishing.

Goffman, E. (1974). Frame analysis: An essay on the organization of experience. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Han, B. C. (2015). The burnout society. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Han, B. C. (2017). Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and new technologies of power. London and New York: Verso Books.

Han, B. C. (2018). Topology of violence (Trans. Amanda DeMarco). Cambridge: MIT Press.

Haraway, D. (1988). Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective.

Feminist Studies, 14(3), 575-599.

Hewitt, P. L., Flett, G. L. and Ediger, E. (1996). Perfectionism and depression: Longitudinal assessment of a specific

vulnerability hypothesis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 105(2), 276-280.

Hibbeln, J. R. (1998). Fish consumption and major depression. The Lancet, 351(9110), 1213-1213.

Howren, M. B., Lamkin, D. M. and Suls, J. (2009). Associations of depression with C-reactive protein, IL-1, and IL-6:

A meta-analysis. Psychosomatic Medicine, 71(2), 171-186.

Ingram, R. E., Miranda, J. and Segal, Z. V. (1998). Cognitive vulnerability to depression. New York: Guilford Press.

Karg, K., Burmeister, M., Shedden, K. and Sen, S. (2011). The serotonin transporter promoter variant (5-HTTLPR), stress,

and depression meta-analysis revisited: Evidence of genetic moderation. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68(5), 444-454.

Kaufman, J., Yang, B. Z., Douglas-Palumberi, H., Houshyar, S., Lipschitz, D., Krystal, J. H. and Gelernter, J. (2004).

Social supports and serotonin transporter gene moderate depression in maltreated children. Proceedings of theNational Academy of Sciences, 101(49), 17316-17321.

Knorr-Cetina, K. (2009). Epistemic cultures: How the sciences make knowledge. Cambridge (MA) and London: Harvard

University Press.

Lakoff, G. (2007). No pienses en un elefante: Lenguaje y debate político. Madrid: Editorial Complutense.

Latour, B. (1992). Ciencia en acción. Barcelona: Labor.

Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network-theory. New York: Oxford University Press.

Law, J. (2004). After method: Mess in social science research. London and New York: Routledge.

Leary, M. R. (1990). Responses to social exclusion: Social anxiety, jealousy, loneliness, depression, and low selfesteem.

Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 9(2), 221-229.

Lustberg, L. and Reynolds III, C. F. (2000). Depression and insomnia: Questions of cause and effect. Sleep Medicine

Reviews, 4(3), 253-262.

Manasse, M. E. and Ganem, N. M. (2009). Victimization as a cause of delinquency: The role of depression and

gender. Journal of Criminal Justice, 37, 371-378.

Martínez-González, M. A. and De Irala, J. (2005). Medicina preventiva y fracaso clamoroso de la salud pública:

Llegamos mal porque llegamos tarde. Medicina clínica, 124(17), 656-660.

Maset, J. (13 de octubre de 2015). Depresión. In [Consulted: 15th February 2019] https://www.cinfasalud.


Mayo Clinic (s. f.). Depresión (trastorno depresivo mayor). In [Consulted: 15th February 2019]https://

MedlinePlus (s. f.). Depresión. In [Consulted: 15th February 2019]


Meltzer, H. Y. (1990). Role of serotonin in depressiona. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 600(1), 486-499.

Mental Health America (s. f.). ¿Qué es la depresión? [Consulted: 15th February 2019] http://www.mentalhealthamerica.


Micheli, R. (2010). Emotions as objects of argumentative constructions. Argumentation, 24(1), 1-17.

Miller, A. H., Maletic, V. and Raison, C. L. (2009). Inflammation and its discontents: The role of cytokines in the

pathophysiology of major depression. Biological Psychiatry, 65(9), 732-741.

Mol, A. (2002). The body multiple: Ontology in medical practice. Durham (NC) and London: Duke University Press.

Müller, N. and Schwarz, M. J. (2007). The immune-mediated alteration of serotonin and glutamate: Towards an

integrated view of depression. Molecular Psychiatry, 12(11), 988-1000.

National Institute of Mental Health (s. f.). Depresión [Consulted: 15th February 2019]


Newmann, J. P. (1989). Aging and depression. Psychology and Aging, 4(2), 150-165.

Nietzsche, F. (1970). Así hablaba Zaratustra. Mexico: Anaya Editores.

Noles, S. W., Cash, T. F. and Winstead, B. A. (1985). Body image, physical attractiveness, and depression. Journal of

Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 53(1), 88-94.

Organización Mundial de la Salud (s. f.). Depresión [Consulted: 15th February 2019]


Owens, M. J. and Nemeroff, C. B. (1994). Role of serotonin in the pathophysiology of depression: Focus on the

serotonin transporter. Clinical Chemistry, 40(2), 288-295.

Pla Vidal, J. (s. f.). Depresión. In (Clínica Universidad de Navarra). [Consulted: 15th February 2019] https://

Plaza, M. Por qué no aplaudo el programa de ‘Salvados’ sobre depresión. In [Consulted: 15th February

Raison, C. L., Capuron, L. and Miller, A. H. (2006). Cytokines sing the blues: Inflammation and the pathogenesis

of depression. Trends in Immunology, 27(1), 24-31.

Regier, D. A., Farmer, M. E., Rae, D. S., Locke, B. Z., Keith, S. J., Judd, L. L. and Goodwin, F. K. (1990). Comorbidity

of mental disorders with alcohol and other drug abuse: Results from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA)

Study. Jama, 264(19), 2511-2518.

Ricoeur, P. (1975). La métaphore vive. Paris: Seuil.

Risch, N., Herrell, R., Lehner, T., Liang, K. Y., Eaves, L., Hoh, J., Griem, A., Kovacs, M., Ott, J. and Merikangas, K.

R. (2009). Interaction between the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR), stressful life events, and risk of

depression: A meta-analysis. Jama, 301(23), 2462-2471.

Ryu, E. J., Choi, K. S., Seo, J. S. and Nam, B. W. (2004). The relationships of Internet addiction, depression, and

suicidal ideation in adolescents. Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing, 34(1), 102-110.

SanaMente (s. f.). ¿Qué es la depresión? [Consulted: 15th February 2019]


Seligman, M. E. (1975). Helplessness: On depression, development, and death. A series of books in psychology. New York:

WH Freeman / Times Books / Henry Holt & Co.

Shapin, S. (2010). Never pure: Historical studies of science as if it was produced by people with bodies, situated in time,

space, culture, and society, and struggling for credibility and authority. Baltimore: JHU Press.

Smithson, M. (1989). Ignorance and uncertainty: Emerging paradigms. New York: Springer-Verlag Publishing.

Tannen, D. (1990). You just don›t understand: Women and men in conversation. New York: William Morrow.

Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (s. f.). ¿Qué es la depresión? [Consulted: 15th February 2019]https://www.

Venturini, T. (2010). Diving in magma: How to explore controversies with actor-network theory. Public understanding

of science, 19(3), 258-273.

Weeks, D. G., Michela, J. L., Peplau, L. A. and Bragg, M. E. (1980). Relation between loneliness and depression: A

structural equation analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39(6), 1238-1244.




Com citar

García-Martínez, J. (2021) “Defining Depression: Endogenous Materialities, Exogenous Immaterialities”, Debats. Revista de cultura, poder i societat, pp. 29–42. doi: 10.28939/iam.debats-en.2021-2.