Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 337–359

Taking anti-depressant medications: Resistance, trial commitment, conversion, disenchantment

  • David A. Karp

DOI: 10.1007/BF00989969

Cite this article as:
Karp, D.A. Qual Sociol (1993) 16: 337. doi:10.1007/BF00989969


This paper documents the meanings attached to taking anti-depressant medications. Indepth interview materials from a sample of persons diagnosed and treated for depression suggest that taking doctor-prescribed drugs involves an extensive interpretive process about the meanings of having an emotional “illness.” The data and analysis extend previous studies on the meanings of taking psychotropic drugs by showing how those meanings change over the course of the depression “career.” An individual's changing responses to psychiatric medications can be described as a socialization process having radical implications for self definition. The four stages constituting this socialization process and central to the analysis in the paper are: resistance, trial commitment, conversion, and disenchantment. Each of these stages is discussed in terms of its impact on personal identity. The implications of the presented data for challenges to the medical model are discussed.

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Karp
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyBoston CollegeChestnut Hill