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Family, Culture, and Self in the Development of Eating Disorders (Hardcover) (Susan Haworth-hoeppner)
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This book takes a unique approach to the examination of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. White, middle-class women share their insights into the emergence of their illnesses through detailed interviews that consider perceptions of the role of family, the influence of cultural messages regarding thinness and beauty, the agency these women exert in the use of weight control to cope with life’s stressors, the meaning they attach to their eating disorders and how these issues together perpetuate their disease. The themes of family, culture, and self arise in their narratives and form the critical underpinnings related to eating disorders that provide the theoretical foundation for this study.
Utilizing a Symbolic Interactionist framework and a grounded theory approach, the book puts forth two important ideas: 1) family structure and dynamics are key elements regarding eating disorders, especially as those dynamics involve family talk about weight, conceptualized as a dominating discourse on weight and 2) cultural messages that establish attitudes toward beauty influence individuals’ incorporation of and response to those messages. Therefore, the extent to which family transmits cultural messages about thinness and body shape, the manner in which these are conveyed to family members, and the degree to which daughters draw upon family dynamics that emphasize weight and appearance as a way to cope with stressors—all are crucial to understanding the processes associated with the formation and repercussions of body image in the development of eating disorders.