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Keywords:

  • anorexia nervosa;
  • psychotherapy;
  • patient perspective;
  • postmodernism

Abstract

Objective

Recent postmodernist studies of anorexia nervosa (AN) challenge current clinical understandings and therapies by illuminating not what AN is but how what it is known to be by clinicians helps construct the disorder and therapy for it. This study points to the equal if not greater importance of how patients know AN.

Methods

Using a deconstructive approach, the discourses of a group of women diagnosed with severe AN were analyzed to reveal radically different versions of “knowing one's self” anorexic.

Results

These versions of “self” have strategically different implications for, and meanings of, any therapeutic endeavour.

Discussion

Postmodernist approaches point to the need for social reconstruction of lay and community understandings of AN. They also have implications at the level of individual therapy, and could be deployed with patients to establish individual but authentic bases for therapy. © 2002 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 33: 22–32, 2003.