Anorexia is one of the most puzzling illnesses of our time. Recent decades have seen a growth in the disorder which now affects more than one in 100 women. This book presents compelling new data from 104 anorexics that challenges established opinion about what kind of people contract the disorder. Writing from a sociological perspective, the author asks if medical definitions of anorexia always reflect patients’ experiences and if the ‘stereotype’ of the anorexic as a ‘fat phobic’, middle-class adolescent is genuinely supported by data. By combining moving testimony in patients’ own words together with demographic findings and sociological comment, the author demonstrates that all kinds of women from all sorts of backgrounds can and do develop anorexia. The author offers a new perspective that demands a more inclusive definition of the disorder, which reflects the moving accounts presented in this book. She shows that the causes of anorexia are as varied as the patients who experience it.
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2007. 267 pp.
Contents: A discussion of the concept of anorexia as defined by clinicians – A review of sociological literature in food,
eating and anorexia – Presentation of demographic data on social class, educational attainment and place of residence from
104 anorexics – Presentation of testimony from anorexics themselves about the causes of their disorder – An examination of
a sample of doctor/patient dialogue.