chapter  4
19 Pages

The Changing Body Image of the Adolescent Girl

I am repeatedly struck by the prominent role of concerns about the body in the psychotherapy of adolescent girls. The body is experienced as a reflection of the self; it is often devalued and denigrated; it can be a source of conflict, shame, and inadequacy, as well as of pride and pleasure. How the body is perceived by others, often with painfully acute self-consciousness, is an area of considerable concern and speculation for many adolescent girls. I was curious to find out how skewed a picture I had been getting through the looking glass of my psychiatric office and decided to compare my impressions from treating adolescent female patients with the experiences of apparently normal healthy adolescent girls. The present discus­ sion is based on anecdotal material obtained in interviews with 30 “ normal” ado­ lescent girls.