Brexit Anxiety: A Case Study in the Medicalization of Dissent

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This paper illustrates how concepts of mental disorder have been deployed to medicalize negative emotions and, thereby, weaken the political agency of some individuals. First, I theorise the link between political agency and emotions, arguing that effective political action entails the transformation of emotions into public issues. Using the British referendum on membership in the EU as a case study, I then examine how medically loaded terms and rhetoric were used to describe suffering after the vote. Finally, I argue that this generated conditions that interrupted or even reversed the transformation of subjective experiences into politically meaningful issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-840
Number of pages19
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Issue number7
Early online date15 Feb 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

The acceptance date for this record is provisional and based upon the month of publication for the article.


  • Arendt
  • political emotions
  • political agency
  • EU referendum
  • Brexit


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