Article ID: CBB011577777

Cyber Solace: Historicizing an Online Forum for Patients with Depression, 1990–1999 (2022)

unapi

Alt.support.depression (ASD) was an online forum for patients with depression that operated in the 1990s on the computer network Usenet. At its peak, the forum had an estimated readership of 57,000 and saw upwards of 500 posts a day. Aligning with recent efforts by historians to deinstitutionalize the history of psychiatry, this study traces the emergence of ASD as a new extramural space for mental health care in the 1990s. Its users created a unique therapeutic milieu informed by the consumer-survivor movement and 1990s cyberculture. As ASD grew in size and complexity, its users sought to redesign their forum, opening what had previously been a technological black box. Working by a process of inscription—a concept described by science and technology studies scholar Madeleine Akrich—they created a unique psychiatric constituency whose attitude towards technologies of mental health care was neither submissive nor subversive. Rather, the forum’s users developed their own notions of patient empowerment and lay expertise in psychiatry.

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Authors & Contributors
Hirshbein, Laura Davidow
Pieters, Toine
Blazer, Dan G.
Ghaemi, S. Nassir
Godderis, Rebecca
Hanganu-Bresch, Cristina
Journals
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Gewina
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
History of Psychiatry
Publishers
Oxford University Press
Princeton University Press
University of Minnesota
Johns Hopkins University Press
Routledge
Concepts
Psychiatry
Depression
Mental disorders and diseases
Diagnosis
Medicine and culture
Pharmacy
People
Binswanger, Ludwig
Harlow, Harry Frederick
Roland Kuhn
Time Periods
20th century, late
19th century
20th century
21st century
20th century, early
Places
United States
Great Britain
Japan
Switzerland
Netherlands
Miami (Florida)
Institutions
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)
University of Miami
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