chapter  23
32 Pages

ANOREXIA NERVOSA: PSYCHOPATHOLOGY AS THE CRYSTALLIZATION OF CULTURE

A s a p h i l o s o p h e r , I was also i n t r i g u e d b y the classically dual is t ic language

m y students o f ten used to descr ibe the i r feelings, a n d I d e c i d e d to i n c o r p o -

rate a sec t ion o n c o n t e m p o r a r y attitudes t o w a r d the b o d y i n m y metaphysics

course . T h e r e , I d iscovered that a l t h o u g h it was p r e d o m i n a n t l y m y female s t u -

dents w h o e x p e r i e n c e d the i r lives as a p e r p e t u a l battle w i t h the i r bodies ,

qui te a f e w o f m y male students expressed s imi lar ideas w h e n w r i t i n g a b o u t

r u n n i n g . I f o u n d m y s e l f fascinated b y w h a t seemed to m e to be the c u l t u r a l

emergenc e o f a set o f attitudes about the b o d y w h i c h , w h i l e n o t n e w as ideas,

were finding a special k i n d o f e m b o d i m e n t i n c o n t e m p o r a r y cu l ture , a n d I

began to see all sorts o f e v i d e n c e for this c u l t u r a l hypothes is . So began a p r o -

j ec t that has since o c c u p i e d a g o o d deal o f m y a t ten t ion a n d that has, I b e -

lieve, progressively b e e n val idated. I n 1983, the b o d y practices a n d attitudes

that I v i e w e d as s u p p o r t i n g m y tentative i n t u i t i o n s were a mere r i p p l e o n the

c u l t u r a l scene c o m p a r e d to the place I have w a t c h e d t h e m assume since t h e n .