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Chelsea Cutler on the Commodification of Mental Illness

The singer-songwriter shares her struggle of coping with depression

Going There mental illness chelsea cutler photo by murel margaret Header
Going There with Chelsea Cutler, photo by Murel Margaret
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    Singer-songwriter Chelsea Cutler talks depression and the public perception of mental illness on the latest episode of Going There with Dr. Mike.

    The When I Close My Eyes musician describes how she can feel a pervasive sense of fatigue, and often can lack a deeper sense of satisfaction or fulfillment in her life. As a response, she describes craving what she calls “emotional neutrality,” essentially being able to remove emotions from decision making. Many who struggle with mental illnesses such as mood or anxiety disorders often feel like their depression or anxiety heavily influences their thoughts and behavior; Cutler describes the cognitive and behavioral therapeutic techniques she uses to try to manage her depression and attain some semblance of emotional neutrality even when she is in a depressed state.

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    During the conversation, one issue that Cutler raises is what she sees as the risk of the “commodification” of mental illness, where mental illness is represented as part of a product that is sold. Having mental illness represented in the public sphere has the potential to be validating and inclusive, but if it is not represented in a way that feels authentic to people who actually struggle with these issues, it may actually be damaging. Specifically, if the pain of depression gets glamorized for the purpose of selling an image or idea, this can make those who struggle with mental illness feel more alone and less understood.

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