A body without excess weight. Case of Anorexia Nervosa

The last two or three decades of the XX century were marked by a very strange phenomenon. Before our eyes were suspiciously large number of people, especially women, whose bodies are safe to be called graceful, elegant, and even frankly thin. The researchers paid attention to this fact, it is stated that at the beginning of the eighties in the culture has developed a new model of the body, which causes the most outspoken sympathy. It is reported, for example, that the physical parameters of the winners of contests like "Miss America", popular models and stars of "Playboy" has changed considerably compared to the standards of previous years1. Among the many common explanations for this trend, most attention is drawn to the research programs, revolving around the issue, interpreted as a complex phenomenon concerning any regulation of body weight. Let us consider briefly the story, based on existing interpretations.

Paul Garfinkel and David Garner indicate that the first mention of Anorexia Nervosa doctor from Oxford VV Gull (WW Gull) in 1868, which, following the medical classification of the time, considered it as an aspect of hysteria. Yet six years later (1874), this concept was used by ED Lesgyu (E. D. Lesegue)2. Joan Jacobs Brumberg also agrees with the fact that the first cases of anorexia are known to physicians not until the second half of the XIX century. According to her, the doctors did not aspire to a specific diagnosis of anorexia, because they saw in it the more general case of hysteria3. In this case, all researchers agree that until the last third of the XX century, the issue of Anorexia Nervosa remained of little interest to medical knowledge.

Surge of interest in anorexia began sometime in 1973 when the doctor Hilda Brooke published his study in which debates about Anorexia Nervosa in connection with disorders of nutrition and specific situation of women in the modern culture4. To publish it quickly accepted numerous medical community, feminist criticism, and various researchers of contemporary cultural processes.

Medical representation of Anorexia Nervosa, not differing interpretations unity coincide mainly that anorexia is a form of psychopathology and similar, for example a disease such as bulimia. James Doyle and Michael Palud bring abundant statistical data showing that the number of affected Anorexia Nervosa continuously increased since 1970, and the majority of those have always been the young women and girls aged 12 to 25 years. The number of men suffering from anorexia, less than twenty times5. The validity of medical treatments of anorexia as a disease is supported by the fact that the number of patients dying from Anorexia Nervosa, up to 15% 6. No less spectacular statistics pathological cases Anorexia Nervosa leads Dr. Steven Levenkron, which also indicates that anorexia are the most common among female college students who recklessly trying to control your weight by the use of emetics, laxatives and diuretics7.

Among the most common medical interpretations of Anorexia Nervosa are predominantly those that are formulated in the spirit of traditional Freudian. According to these interpretations — and they relate only to women's cases — anorexia is an expression of psycho-sexual girl fears about a possible pregnancy and sexual harassment by men. In this sense, anorexia is seen as the fear of a big belly and breast augmentation inherent in the parent body. In addition, this interpretation of a correlation between anorexia and hysteria, and concludes that Anorexia Nervosa is a reaction to sexual abuse and violence8. Summarizing the available medical reading cases Anorexia Nervosa, Garfinkel and Garner say that anorexia is generally characterized by three symptoms: severe self-induced weight loss, amenorrhea and the fear of losing control over their appetite and become thick9.

In feminist literature, anorexia is not seen as pathological. In discussing this issue, the authors, as Foucault once in the case of "isterizatsiey female body" in the Victorian era10, prefer to talk about the medical regulation of the female body and see an example of anorexia unnecessary medical concern. However, feminist criticism is now not only stops on an exposure of the latest strategies medicalization of bodies, but goes further by drawing attention to the larger issue of why the West is a woman's body over and over again becomes an area of testing new forms of power and knowledge.

Julia Wood sees in Anorexia Nervosa, only one out of five cases of modern pathologizing normal female body. According to her, the same discriminatory logic deployed modern allegations of abnormalities of premenstrual syndrome, menopause, hairy legs and the size of the female breast. However, the Wood connects these excesses is not so much with interest in medical consolidating his power over women's bodies as the role of modern media, cultivating fairly unambiguous representation of the female image and resorting to rhetoric medikalistskoy11. The fact that anorexia — is primarily a woman's disease, induced by feminist authors to make a reasonable conclusion is that the female body is not as vulnerable to psychopathology and disorders related to diet, how to tender the pressure exerted on the woman of modern culture. Susan Bordeaux says that the medical model is completely inadequate for reasoning about anorexia12.

It reinforced the gender issue status Anorexia Nervosa? It can be assumed that there are two reasons for this. First of all, anorexia — this is the natural effect caused by the breakdown of traditional female stereotypes and changing the boundaries of women's activities in the framework of our culture. In another case, anorexia — a way of theming masculine long-standing concern to the phantom image of a woman, which combines the hunger, sexual frustration and unmotivated actions. In both cases, the interest in Anorexia Nervosa can be considered as a reaction to these gender changes.

So, industrialism has destroyed traditional female roles in society: women no longer perform those kinds of domestic work that has been transferred to the factory. However XIX century industrialism did not shake, and partly strengthened ideal delicate and wealthy woman, protected by walls and depending on household across from her husband. Victorian mother of the bourgeois family was in the home insulation, and its oppressive boredom13. At the same time, by the way, began to show numerous cases of female hysteria and disability14. In the XIX century, middle-class women were not free, and the only role that guaranteed them social recognition was the role of the mother. Only in the XX century, this woman has achieved broad autonomy: she had her own money and a political voice. She demanded to see themselves not only as a mother, but as a citizen, as an active agent of economic relations, as the parties' activities in sexual intercourse. A manifestation of this independence was also anorexia. In any case, the reluctance to assimilate the body only model of the mother's body can be interpreted as a feminist protest against the traditional views on the role of women in the culture15.

But this logic is opposed to assimilation to another. For many centuries of European aesthetics thin female body — it is also an allegory of the monstrous. If fullness and softness invariably associated with accommodating the home a woman, anorexia body causes the viewer terrible foreboding. This image of the set in the crisis era when unfolding "War with the Devil" and started a "witch hunt." In the fine art of the late XIX century, when the West has spread first wave of the women's movement as a reaction to it have to multiply the images of female vampires, women kastratorov, female killers. Everywhere in literature and theater flourished Salome, Delilah, sphinxes, etc. The apotheosis of this gallery hallucinations could be considered a way of insatiable women16. Against the background of this archetypal image of anorexia body emancipated woman of the XX century is in an ambiguous position, and gender grounds Anorexia Nervosa become counterproductive. In other words, the feminist critique of the identity of the female body with the body of his mother is the flip side of the awakening of the ancient archetypes of monstrous women.

Yet the feminist argument for nepolnovesnogo and slim female body can not be considered hopelessly weak. In fact, it can be enhanced by going beyond the one-dimensional gender conflict. It should immediately make a reservation: there is no gender-neutral bodies, but the situation with the body is not limited to genderiziruyuschemu reading. The case of anorexia body in contemporary culture konsumeristskoy fits into the logic of the development of a multi-dimensional, where gender is one of a number of variables.

Anorexia Nervosa as an example of the concerns slender body can be considered in a broader historical perspective. In particular, we would like here to draw attention to the link between the phenomenon of anorexia and control practices known in the Western tradition. Let's start with the fact that the works of Dr. Hilda Brooke was clearly indicated that patients with anorexia for their persistent desire to starve and lose their weight was seen as positive by the patients. So, one of them expressed about his own addiction to starvation as follows: "You make your body your own kingdom, where you are — an absolute tyrant and dictator"17. Kim Chernin, showing an example of anorexia thought and talked about his impressions of starvation, "I realized then that my secret goal in the diet is the intention to completely destroy my appetite"18. Following these judgments, we see that for anorectics, that is the person who is considered anorexic, its diet is seen as a way of life, on which can be installed full control. He is not worried because of his hunger, on the contrary, it shows the excitement of the emergence of his excessive appetite.

For many centuries of Western history the practice of regulation of the food — Dietetics and post — were the most important elements of the culture of the privileged classes. Their purpose in one form or another was the establishment of self-control over desires, appetites and pleasures. In turn, this desire for self-control, which is correlated with the tradition of Greco-Christian dualism of mind and body, originating from Plato and Augustine. Moderation in food, especially in the Christian culture, was associated with the control of sexuality and was the most important component of sexual ethics. For example, Augustine believed that food is needed only for the health, but if it is used for pleasure, then it becomes dangerous, "What is health enough to enjoy a little"19.

The modern desire to control their own body weight by voluntary starvation largely coincides with the traditions of self-control. However, there are some differences. The subject of self-control in earlier times had been the desire of the soul. In today's world, it certainly becomes the object of the body and its quantitative parameters. The latest self-care rituals have become tech. The traditional dietetics and nutrition in forbearance added sophisticated exercise (shaping, body building), applied pharmacology and cosmetic surgery. It should also be said of disseminated through konsumeristskoy culture of various strength tests, such as marathon races, ultra-long swims, triathlon, etc. Sure, it may seem that between starvation and anorectics muscle-building bodybuilding there is a huge difference. Nevertheless, she and the other practices are based on the idea of achieving full control of their capabilities, especially control over the parameters of the body.

Foucault first able to show that the practice of self-control in the ancient world were the work of the privileged classes who share the ideals of the old aristocracy. "It was an ethic of men: the ethics designed, written and taught by men and designed for men — needless to say, free men"20. Of course, this provision remains in force for the next century.

When the bourgeoisie came to power for a long time her relationship to her own body different from that practiced by people from aristocratic families. Even in the early XX century, middle-class life was like for those standards that developed fading aristocratic elite. According to the just remark of Jose Ortega y Gasset, came century "revolt of the masses" and the collapse of the aristocratic ideals of self-restraint and self control21. Era, which says Ortega y Gasset, could well be called the era of early bourgeois attitude to the body. Until the end of the XIX century, the representative body of the bourgeois world was a direct sign of his being. The thickness and fatness men spoke about the thickness of his wallet. This is clearly says in his study of Lewis Banner22. However, at the beginning of the XX century was the corpulence of the body to go out of fashion, and, above all men, representatives of the bourgeois circles. Even a successful tycoon, like William Howard Taft, whose weight was three hundred pounds, in the end, was forced to go on a diet. A new era of bourgeois politics of the body.

With what was the reason? Of course, with a new representation leniem the nature of power. Already in the first half of the XX century "rule" meant not so much to enjoy and accumulate wealth as organize other people's work and reallocate resources. Peter Drucker chronologically relates these events with the period of 1880-1945 years23. Ability to organize and distribute — is not only a new skill in the organization of production, but also a new skill in the management of the body. In other words, the "lord" has come to mean also to control his body, and, for example, "consume" — not only consume in the concrete material sense, but, above all, in the symbolic: the emotional experience of delight that you can do without the accumulation of stocks.

The second half and especially the end of the XX century were marked by a greater activity of the middle class against its own body. One example of this campaign can be considered a large-scale war with the stomach. In konsumeristskoy culture stomach is something reprehensible. Belly seems to object that continually threatens to undermine our authority over the body. Stomach remains in the historical past, in times of Rabelaisian giants. In the new world it has no place. He is like a mountain rising from the depths of the flesh, threatening to break her, promising to make it a stranger to ourselves. Belly — it is something mysterious and monstrous, werewolf, werewolf, who lives in the depths of our body. Stomach causes hatred. Now states that excess fat, the fat that is just in general, should be burnt. Pharmacies sell all kinds of drugs to burn fat. Medicine offers liposuction. The market is multiplying the product mix, allowing a thick slim and slender achieve even greater slimness. Needless to say, that has been said about the stomach is equally true today, and the buttocks. Appealing to the genius of medicine, the TV screen declared war on cellulite. In the set there and the appropriate scientific and popular literature.

It is interesting to note how in the XX century, the attitude to muscular body. I always had a lot of muscularity cultural values. For example, it saw a specific manifestation of masculinity and femininity contrast. But in the more popular social context muscular body has always been associated with manual labor, with neintelligentnostyu, rudeness and lack of civility. Sparkling in the sun almost always muscular body was the body of a black slave plantations. But the development of industrial production has changed the values. Work at the conveyor does not require muscular effort. In the XX century, muscular body was a sign of the social groups that have secured leisure. Muscles are now expressing the ability to self-control and the ability to control themselves and their surroundings. Following a muscular male bodies in the modern world began to appear in abundance and muscular female body, the body bodybuilders. Muscular body today popularized by the media.

Konsumeristskaya culture values above all youthful and well-groomed body. This means that it is favorable to anorexia and body, body without flabbiness, no belly, body, nahldyaschemusya under severe control. If it is a woman, then this is probably not the body of Marilyn Monroe, and one of the bodies of top models, and if a man — it is the body of an athlete can be Superman. In any case, this body, whose weight is calculated in every way, whose volumes were measured. This is the body of almost all known. Where in the world today such an obsession with this body?

Kim black, referring to the sociological polls, says that today's young people's fear of losing control over their own body weight is much stronger than all other fears, even the fear of nuclear war24. Do not express those views answer to our question? In fact, at the end of the XX century, when people feel that they can not control many things and events managed abstract systems, real, that they can do — is to control themselves, that is their bodies. In a culture where survival often depends on the mercy of experts, machinery and high-precision technology, the body takes a special kind of vulnerability and dependence. It seems that the desire to control body weight through diet can be considered as a response to its dependence on external factors. Anorexia Nervosa — a kind of striving for invulnerability effect.

In addition, konsumeristkih receptions control of the body affected and the ancient dream of immortality. But now that dream is not supported by religious or philosophical fantasies, and purely scientific. Now do not crave to merge in essential unity with God, but want to keep your body strong, lean and flexible. This means in turn that such an understanding weight control strategies are a provocation. We are not immortal. Excessive obsession with diet only detracts from the joy of existence.

At the time, Mary Douglas, treating the body as a system of natural symbols, showed that traditional societies were concerned about every possible way to maintain the immutability of physical boundaries: Pay attention to all bodily fluids — saliva, feces, menstrual blood25. This attention to the body was due to the fact that the volatility of natural phenomena can be countered only one thing: control of the body. Modern societies have long ceased to be natural. The instability of our existence today largely depends not on the whims of nature, and of the phenomena of social order. In this sense, it is clear that the modern obsession with the body and can be considered an attempt to adapt to the changes happening around us. According to Anthony Giddens, "diet connects the physical appearance of self-identity and sexuality in the context of social change, with which individuals are struggling to cope. Emaciated body today is not evidence of ecstatic devotion, but rather the intensity of this vital struggle "26.

In conclusion, it remains to say that the relevance of the current debates about Anorexia Nervosa is, first of all, that in front of us once again offer a great opportunity to make sure that there is not and can not be in itself a body. Every body — it is always a derivative of the appropriate forms of control that turns the body into a network of new values. In konsumeristskoy culture anorexia body — the embodiment of the universal restlessness and self-care.

For previous articles:

Mass media heavy body like a phantom Homo Immortalis

Konsumeristskie body


1. Bordo S. Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and Body. Berkley et al.: University of California Press, 1995. P.45.

2. Garflnkel P. and Garner D. M. Anorexia Nervosa. New York: Brunner Mazel. 1982. P. 58-59.

3. Brumberg JJ Fasting Gtris: The Emergence of Anorexia Nervosa as a Modern Disease. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988. P. 41-125.

4. Bruch H. Eating Disorders. New York: Basic Books, 1973.

5. Doyle D. and M. Paludi. Sex and Gender. The Human Experience. Madison et al.: Brown and Benchmark Publishers, 1995. P. 279-280.

6. Van Buskirk SS A Two-phase Perspective on the Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa / / Psychological Bulletin, 1977. Vol. 84. P. 529-538.

7. Levenkron S. Treating and Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa. New York: Warner Books, 1982. P. 1.

8. Bruch H. The Golden Cage: Te Enigma of Anorexia Nervosa. New York: Vintage, 1979; Schechter J. et al. Sexual Assault and Anorexia Nervosa / / International Journal of Eating Disorders », 1987. Vol. 6. P. 313 — 316; Calam R. and Slade P. Sexual Experience and Eating Problems In Female Undergraduates / / International Journal of Eating Disorders, 1989. VoL 8. P. 392-397.

9. Garftnkel P. and Garner DM Anorexia Nervosa. New York: Brunner Mazel, 1982.

10. M. Foucault, The History of Sexuality. T. 1. The will of the building. S. 205 — 206, 225-226.

11. Wood J. T. Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture. Belmont, California: Wads worth PublUhlntf Company. 1994. P. 250-252.

12. Bordo S. Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and Body. P. 53-54.

13. Tennehil R. Sex in history. M. Krohn-Prsss, 1995. S. 327-328.

14. Smith-Rosenberg S. The Hysterical Woman: Sex Roles and Conflict Nineteenth-Century America / / Social Research, 1972. Vol. 39. (4). P. 662-678.

15. This point of view is offered by: Shernin K. The Obsession: Reflections on the Tyranny of Slenderness. New York: Harper and Row, 1981. P. 102-103; Seldenberg R. and De Crow K. Women Who Marry Houses: Panic and Protest In Agoraphobia. New York: McGraw-Hill. 1983. P. 88-97.

16. See: E. Fuchs Illustrated History of Erotic Art. M., 1995. S. 406.

17. Bruch H. The Golden Cage. P. 65.

18. Chernin K. The Obsession. P. 8.

19. Augustine of Hippo. Confessions, X, XXXI. 44.

20. Foucault M. The Use of Pleasure. Vol. 2 of The History of Sexuality. New York: Vintage, 1990. P. 22.

21. Ortega y Gasset H. Revolt of the Masses / / "Dehumanization of Art" and other works. Essays on Literature and Art. Moscow, 1991. S. 40, 80-94, etc.

22. Banner L. American Beaty. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1983. P. 53-55.

23. Drucker P. post-capitalist society / / New wave of post-industrial West: An Anthology. Moscow, 1999. P.70

24. Chernin K. The Obsession. P. 36-37.

25. Douglas M. Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. London and New York: Routledge. 1994. P. 115-129.

26. Giddens, A. Foucault on sexuality / / Sociology of sexuality. Anthology. SPB., 1997. S. 33



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