1st Edition

The Thin Woman Feminism, Post-structuralism and the Social Psychology of Anorexia Nervosa

By Helen Malson Copyright 1998

    The Thin Woman provides an in-depth discussion of anorexia nervosa from a feminist social psychological standpoint. Medicine, psychiatry and psychology have all presented us with particular ways of understanding eating disorders, yet the notion of 'anorexia' as a medical condition limits our understanding of anorexia and the extent to which we can explore it as a socially, discursively produced problem.
    Based on original research using historical and contemporary literature on anorexia nervosa, and a series of interviews with women diagnosed as anorexic, The Thin Woman offers new insights into the problem. It will prove useful both to those with an interest in eating disorders and gender, and to those interested in the new developments in feminist post-structuralist theory and discourse analytic research in psychology.

    INTRODUCTION Tales of thin women; A rough guide to anorexia nervosa; Culture and gender in anorexia nervosa; Towards a reformulation of ‘anorexia’ Part I Towards a feminist post-structuralist perspective 1 THEORIZING WOMEN: DISCOURSING GENDER, SUBJECTIVITY AND EMBODIMENT 2 DISCOURSE, FEMINISM, RESEARCH AND THE PRODUCTION OF TRUTH Part II Instituting the thin woman: the discursive productions of ‘anorexia nervosa’3 A GENEALOGY OF ‘ANOREXIA NERVOSA’ 4 DISCOURSING ANOREXIAS IN THE LATE TWENTIETH CENTURY Part III Women’s talk? Productions of the anorexic body in popular Discourse 5 THE THIN/ANOREXIC BODY AND THE DISCURSIVE PRODUCTION OF GENDER 6 SUBJECTIVITY, EMBODIMENT AND GENDER IN A DISCOURSE OF CARTESIAN DUALISM 7 ANOREXIA AND THE DISCURSIVE PRODUCTION OF THE SELF 8 DISCURSIVE SELF-PRODUCTION AND SELF[1]DESTRUCTION


    Helen Malson is a lecturer in psychology at the University of East London and has previously authored a number of journal articles and book chapters on the subject.

    Helen Malson offers a fascinating, well-researched feminist perspective on anorexia nervosa Our culture's discourses on gender, subjectivity and embodiment are seen as deeply and perniciously damaging to women. Malson argues consistently against pathologizing the individual and for a social perspective which acknowledges powerful forces acting within and beyond an individual. - Lynda Randall, European Eating Disorders Review 1998

    A special kind of intelligence seeps from its pages ... Read this book and grasp the strengths and weaknesses of social science when it addresses the human condition and individual existence. It has appeal and challenges for all of us: medical practitioners interested in the molecule, as well as sociologists and sufferers seeking a reassuring rationalisation of the psychosocial pathology contributing to their condition. - The Lancet

    The Thin Woman represents a useful, inspirational, theoretical and methodical resource for anyone interested in the issues of 'anorexia nervosa' and, indeed, anyone who is concerned to question the status and effects of our current knowledge about the social world. - Amanda le Couteur, University of Adelaide

    admirably clear and concise - Griffin, 1999, Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 9, 477-8

    carefully crafted book ... a skilful integration of theory and research ... [Malson] presents a unique theoretical perspective that has many implications for research and future directions in the field. - Chavous, 2000, Sex Roles, 42 (5/6) 463-5