Jeri Hautzig

Date of Award


First Advisor

Jennifer Daniels

Second Advisor

Anne O'Dwyer


In my thesis, The Armchair Influencer: Social Media and Perceptions of Mental Illness, I explore how social media has changed our cultural perceptions of mental illness and created an attitude of medicalization, pathologization, and self-categorization. Drug companies and mental health apps have capitalized on the use and popularization of the medical model, a paradigm which positions mental illness as purely biological and chemical. I believe that the push towards this framework has allowed for dangerous and destructive attitudes, gatekeeping, competitive suffering, and toxic identity politics to emerge online. And the structure of social media, which encourages the collapse of nuance and the illusion of solipsism, is the perfect climate in which to spread these behaviors. In order to trace back the history of these ideals, I explore New Thought, psychopharmacology’s tight grasp on American society, and the ongoing movement to destigmatize mental illness.

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