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Sex, Metaphysics, and Madness

Unveiling the Grail on Human Nature and Mental Disorder

Jane Cook

With philosophy traditionally seen as the way to truth, wisdom and goodness, it is to metaphysics, logic and ethics that we have historically turned to solve personal, social, and existential dilemmas, and find peace and contentment. Rarely is it noted, however, that despite two millennia of debate, philosophers have yet to produce a coherent theory of human/worldly existence. At the same time, the global incidence of mental illness has risen to what many see as epidemic proportions. This book argues that this is no coincidence. Its analysis of key metaphysical texts suggests that the entire philosophical (and religious) canon has been founded upon and distorted by an Aristotelian misconception. Through its social/discursive inscription, this misconceived metaphysics is disrupting the development of fe/male selfhood to a degree that, under further conditions, is causing mental illness. Thus, our metaphysics is making us mad, and the more muddled it gets, the more disordered we become. The testing of this theory via eating disorder research supports a new ‘spirogenetic’ model of subjectivity that resolves not only mental illness, but also the ancient mysteries of the Holy Grail and Philosopher’s Stone.

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Section I: Metaphysics, Essences and Sexes CHAPTER 1: Philosophy and its Discontents ..................................................... 13 1.1 The Problem ....................................................................................... 14 1.2 The Metaphysical Muddle ................................................................. 21 CHAPTER 2: A Genealogy of Essence ............................................................... 31 2.1 Pro-essentialist Philosophies .............................................................. 31 Plato ............................................................................................................... 31 Aristotle ......................................................................................................... 35 Saint Augustine .............................................................................................. 40 René Descartes ............................................................................................... 45 John Locke ..................................................................................................... 50 Immanuel Kant .............................................................................................. 53 Edmund Husserl ............................................................................................. 58 Saul Kripke .................................................................................................... 64 2.2 Anti-essentialist Philosophies ............................................................ 69 Heraclitus of Ephesus .................................................................................... 69 Arthur Schopenhauer ..................................................................................... 75 Friedrich Nietzsche ........................................................................................ 79 Jacques Derrida .............................................................................................. 84 CHAPTER 3: Rethinking Essence, Metaphysics & Human Subjectivity ............ 91 3.1 Deconstructing Essence ..................................................................... 91 3.2 Aristotle’s (il)Logical Misconception of Essence .............................. 94 3.3 A Trail of Misconceptions: Unveiling the Holy Grail ....................... 99 3.4 A Sexed Spirogenetic Reconception of Essence .............................. 108 Section II: Research – Is there a Spirogenetic Essence & Essential Female Self? CHAPTER 4: (Re-)Conceptions of Anorexia .................................................... 117 4.1 A Genealogy of (Etiologies of) Anorexia / Bulimia Nervosa .......... 119 Biomedical Approaches ............................................................................... 126 Psychological Approaches ........................................................................... 127 Cultural Approaches .................................................................................... 128 8 4.2 The Metaphysical/Essence Model of Anorexia ................................ 136 Other ‘Forms’ of Survival: Hysteria, Bulimia & Obesity ............................ 147 Intrafamilial & Symbolic Aspects of Anorexia ........................................... 151 Sexual & Historical Aspects of Anorexia/Bulimia ...................................... 158 CHAPTER 5: Silentstones: Real, Lost and Pretend Selves ............................... 167 5.1 Methodology .................................................................................... 168 5.2 Interviews ......................................................................................... 172 5.3 Results: Telling (Life) Stories .......................................................... 175 The Personal Self ......................................................................................... 176 The Socially (De)constructed, Fragmented Sexual Self .............................. 180 The Reconstructed, Re-formed, Pretend Self ............................................... 193 The Eating (Dis)ordered Self ....................................................................... 213 CHAPTER 6: Speakingstones ............................................................................ 261 6.1 Life Cycle of the Real Female ......................................................... 261 6.2 Interpreting Life Stories: Does the Theory Fit? ............................... 266 6.3 Situating the Essence Model of Eating Disorders...

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