This pre-occupation with my hurts, my dreams, my entitlements—with the organizing principle that I am, and should be treated as, special—is the garden bed into which the du jour varietal ‘have regard for your mental health’ has been planted.
Woebot may sit at the outer rim of digital mental health technologies, but we can see the shape and trajectory it implies for understanding mental health, the care relation and, beyond that, the person generally. Where the CBT-AI combination sets up a relentlessly positive artificial other—an interlocutor that is never awkward or demanding, and becomes naturalised as ‘what I like’—real-world relationships are bound to be found unsatisfactory.
Feeding into this inchoate state of transgression is a cross-current of vectors: our knowledge of impending climate catastrophe, the disavowed madness of the economic system, the danger and transformative power of COVID-19, galloping I-centredness, social fragmentations, and more. This welter of concerns raises the deepest anxiety.