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Anorexia Nervosa and the Body Uncanny: A Phenomenological Approach
Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, Centre for Studies in Practical Knowledge.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8973-8591
2013 (English)In: Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology, ISSN 1071-6076, E-ISSN 1086-3303, Vol. 20, no 1, 81-91 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Anorexia nervosa is a disorder that is closely related to questions of selfhood and social roles. The pursuit of excessive thinness is part of a search for identity in which the control of the body—its size and needs— becomes central. This need for control appears to be triggered by a state of bodily alienation in which the body is perceived to be foreign and horrifying to its bearer. The relentless dieting and excessive exercise pursued by the anorexic person eventually leads to a state of starvation in which the relationship of control between the person and her body becomes reversed: the body now controls the thoughts, feelings and actions of the anorexic person in an uncanny and life threatening way. In this paper an attempt is made to better understand the ways in which the body becomes alien in anorexia nervosa by way of a phenomenological analysis. The analysis is exemplified and supported by stories told by girls suffering from the illness. The aim of the paper is to show that anorexia nervosa is neither a bodily dysfunction, nor a cultural product, only. Rather, the disorder is best understood as an illness in which the autonomous nature of one’s own body becomes overwhelming in a fatal and characteristic way. The different ways of becoming bodily alienated interact in anorexia in establishing an uncanniness of the body that is both conspicuous—to people around the ill person—and hard to escape—for the person herself.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 20, no 1, 81-91 p.
National Category
Philosophy, Ethics and Religion Psychiatry
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-19932ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84879822332OAI: diva2:656751
Available from: 2013-10-17 Created: 2013-10-17 Last updated: 2016-10-10Bibliographically approved

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