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Disciplinary understandings of anorexia nervosa : art therapy and psychiatric research from a feminist perspective

This dissertation explores the constructed nature of the concept of anorexia nervosa in the disciplines of art therapy and psychiatry and considers the ramifications of this on the way women are constructed. This dissertation consisted of three new studies of the construction of anorexia nervosa within disciplinary discourse: 1) a corpus of research articles in psychiatry in 2009; 2) an analysis of the DSM IV and proposed revisions to this document for the future DSM V; and 3) a comprehensive, analysis of the construction of anorexia in all the published research with the field of art therapy. This study offers the first poststructuralist genealogy of the construction of anorexia nervosa in the field of art therapy and the way disciplinary discourse works in that field. Furthermore, this research extended existing poststructuralist studies of anorexia nervosa into the 2ln century by carefully considering psychiatric literature in 2009 and the proposals for the revision of the DSM V. The main findings of this dissertation reaffirm the concept that anorexia nervosa is a constructed term resulting from discursive, disciplinary forces. As found here, the discourse of psychiatry was found to be in a power struggle with other disciplines and have asserted its power through adherence to Neo-Kraepilianian guidelines and the reinvention of the DSM. There was a preference for the medicalization of anorexia nervosa and to see it as natural disease and genetic predisposition as well as an increase in the usage of the categories of cognitive dysfunction and body image distortion. The art therapy literature moved from psychodynamic disturbance and familial pathology to cognitive dysfunction and body image distortion explanations. In addition, for art therapy at the end of the 20th century and into the 21st century there was some exploration of socio-cultural context and spiritual explanations of anorexia nervosa. Overall the construction of women in the art therapy literature on anorexia nervosa moved from explicitly negative characterizations of women built upon accusatory narratives and personal flaws to more subtly hidden negative descriptions. In the psychiatric literature of the 21 " century and the proposed revisions of the influential DSM V there is a preferencef or biological and behaviouralu nderstandingso f anorexia that neutralize gender and distance socio-cultural explanations. The gendered and socio-cultural understandingso f anorexia nervosaa re being actively distancedf rom the explanation of anorexia nervosa. This is highly problematic as there is quite obvious and empirically validated evidence positioning anorexia nervosa as a gendered, socio-cultural phenomenon and this way of understanding allows new options for treatment
Date January 2011
CreatorsRehavia-Hanauer, Dafna
PublisherUniversity of Derby
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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