Potency and vulnerability: Troubled ‘selves’ in the context of antiretroviral therapy Persson, Asha en_US Newman, Christy en_US 2021-11-25T12:50:08Z 2021-11-25T12:50:08Z 2006 en_US
dc.description.abstract The concepts of health and self have become intimately entangled in contemporary western society. Health is figured as a marker of identity, as a vehicle of self-production and selfactualisation, while the individual is also made increasingly responsible for his or her health. In this paper, we explore how “self” is constituted in discourses that shape the ways in which people understand and do health and medicine, particularly discourses of neoliberalism and of the immune system. Of interest here is how the productive and unpredictable intra-action of medicine and bodies may come to trouble these discursive selves. Drawing on qualitative interviews, we situate our discussion in the context of efavirenz, an antiretroviral drug prescribed and consumed for the treatment of HIV infection. This drug, commonly described as “potent”, can have a number of troubling effects on a person’s everyday sense of self, including insomnia, confusion, cognitive disorders, depression, depersonalisation, psychosis, and suicidal ideation. While efavirenz may be clinically effective in its capacity to suppress the virus, these effects are at odds with the implicit aim of HIV medicine to restore and secure the self by way of immunological integrity and strength. These effects also bring into focus the predicament of choice under the contemporary political conditions of neoliberalism with its emphasis on health as an enterprise of the autonomous, rational self. In exploring first person accounts of efavirenz, the paper unpacks a number of the binary concepts on which contemporary discourses of health and medicine rely, such as immunity and vulnerability, potency and fragility, rationality and madness, self and non-self, and asks whether the individual under neoliberalism is being asked the impossible. en_US
dc.identifier.issn 0277-9536 en_US
dc.language English
dc.language.iso EN en_US
dc.rights CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 en_US
dc.rights.uri en_US
dc.source Legacy MARC en_US
dc.subject.other medicine en_US
dc.subject.other HIV en_US
dc.subject.other discourses of self and health en_US
dc.subject.other immune system en_US
dc.subject.other Australia en_US
dc.subject.other Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified (321299) en_US
dc.subject.other Sociology and Social Studies of Science and Technology (370602) en_US
dc.subject.other Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified (379999) en_US
dc.title Potency and vulnerability: Troubled ‘selves’ in the context of antiretroviral therapy en_US
dc.type Journal Article en
dcterms.accessRights open access
dspace.entity.type Publication en_US
unsw.identifier.doiPublisher en_US
unsw.relation.faculty Arts Design & Architecture
unsw.relation.ispartofissue 6 en_US
unsw.relation.ispartofjournal Social Science & Medicine en_US
unsw.relation.ispartofpagefrompageto 1586-1596 en_US
unsw.relation.ispartofvolume 63 en_US
unsw.relation.originalPublicationAffiliation Persson, Asha, National Centre in HIV Social Research, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, UNSW en_US
unsw.relation.originalPublicationAffiliation Newman, Christy, National Centre in HIV Social Research, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, UNSW en_US Centre for Social Research in Health *
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