Article // “Everything by oneself”: individual autonomy and technical mediation in psychological self-care applications

10 de August de 2021

In April 2020, the article “‘EVERYTHING BY ONESELF’: INDIVIDUAL AUTONOMY AND TECHNICAL MEDIATION IN PSYCHOLOGICAL SELF-CARE APPLICATIONS”, written by Fernanda Bruno, Paula Cardoso Pereira, Anna Carolina Franco Bentes, Paulo Faltay, Mariana Antoun, Debora Dantas Pio da Costa, Helena Strecker e Natássia Salgueiro Rocha was published in the journal Reciis/ Fiocruz.

Abstract: This article discusses the result of the analysis of 10 psychological self-care mobile applications used in Brazil, which we call PsiApps. The analysis unfolds in two layers: one, ‘visible’, involves the discourses employed by the applications themselves to describe the problems they seek to solve, their promises and methods; the other, ‘invisible’, includes automated ways of collecting and sharing user data by the applications. We will see how the emphasis on individuality and autonomy manifested in the first layer makes opaque a series of mediators largely invisible to the user present in the second layer. The contrast between the centrality of individual agency promoted by the discourses of the PsiApps and the relational character of the infrastructure and data ecosystem that they integrate highlight the contradictions in the notion of autonomy offered by these applications.

Keywords: Mobile applications; App Studies; Mental health; Subjectivity; Data economy.

The full article in Portuguese is available at: