We would like to thank our informants and acknowledge the help and insights of Anne Becker, Leeat Granek, John O'Connor, Jim Peterman and the AT editors and reviewers.
De-medicalizing anorexia: A new cultural brokering
Article first published online: 24 SEP 2008
© RAI 2008
Volume 24, Issue 5, pages 6–9, October 2008
How to Cite
O'Connor, R. A. and Van Esterik, P. (2008), De-medicalizing anorexia: A new cultural brokering. Anthropology Today, 24: 6–9. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8322.2008.00611.x
- Issue published online: 24 SEP 2008
- Article first published online: 24 SEP 2008
Interviews with recovered anorexics in Tennessee, U. S. A., and Toronto, Canada, refute popular stereotypes and question anorexia's medicalization. Instead of adolescent girls literally dying for looks, putting anorexics in their life-world and life-course context shows youthful ascetics—male as well as female—obsessing over not beauty but self-control, a cardinal contemporary virtue. What makes anorexia into a medical mystery as well as a personal tragedy is how the Cartesian dualism of modern thought splits mind from body. Here anthropology can act as a cultural broker, translating a biocultural disease for today's biology-or-culture thinking.