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The body uncanny: Alienation, illness, and anorexia nervosa
Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, Centre for Studies in Practical Knowledge.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8973-8591
2014 (English)In: Feminist phenomenology and medicine / [ed] Zeiler, Kristin & Folkmarson Käll, Lisa, New York: SUNY Press, 2014, 201-221 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

According to the basic idea of bodily phenomenology the body is exactly the center and vehicle of my whole existence: I am as a body which feels, acts and thinks in my different ways of making myself at home in the world. The lived body, however, is not only my most fundamental home, it is also a creature with a life of its own that harbors autonomous powers. Sometimes this autonomy of the body turns alien  in the sense that it changes my basic being at home with it (as it) into an experience of bodily alienation: the body becomes not only mine, but also other to me in an uncanny way. In the chapter some such forms of bodily uncanniness are identified and related to the example of anorexia nervosa. This analysis helps us to discern different ways in which our bodies can turn up as alien to us and what types of processes (biological, emotional-cognitive, social-cultural) the forms of otherness in question are tied to. Anorexia nervosa displays several such ways of being alienated from one’s body in an uncanny way. These include forms of alienation that can be found in somatic illness, but they also concern ways of being objectified in an everyday manner in the social world by the gazes of others, finding oneself in a cultural pattern of norms regarding the feminine, the healthy, the beautiful, and the successful. The alienating gazes of the others are soon made into a self-surveying gaze by the anorexic girl, in the process of which the image of the own body is made increasingly unrealistic and self-punishing. Anorexia, in most cases, is set off by cultural influences, but when the starvation and over-exercise have been brought into play, the malnourished body as a kind of self-defence inflicts moods that make its bearer strangely disembodied, increasingly apprehending the body as a thing, and a thing that is still not thin enough, despite its now uncannily thin look to others.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: SUNY Press, 2014. 201-221 p.
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Research subject
Critical and Cultural Theory
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-26412Local ID: 726/3.1.1/2014ISBN: 9781438450063 (print)ISBN: 9781438450070 (print)OAI: diva2:789210
The Phenomenology of Suffering in Medicine: Baltic Explorations
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 726/3.1.1/2014
Available from: 2015-02-18 Created: 2015-02-18 Last updated: 2016-10-10Bibliographically approved

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