The Thin Woman

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

By Helen Malson

© 1997 – Routledge

252 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415163330
pub: 1997-11-13
US Dollars$43.95

e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

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.


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

About the Series

Women and Psychology

This series brings together current theory and research on women and psychology. Drawing on scholarship from a number of different areas of psychology, it bridges the gap between abstract research and the reality of women's lives by integrating theory and practice, research and policy.

Each book addresses a 'cutting edge' issue of research, covering topics such as postnatal depression and eating disorders, and addressing a wide range of theories and methodologies.

The series provides accessible and concise accounts of key issues in the study of women and psychology, and clearly demonstrates the centrality of psychology debates within women's studies or feminism.

Learn more…

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