Anorexia and Bodily Intersubjectivity

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Abstract.One's experiences of hunger, food, eating, and the body are not only subjective but intersubjective: They involve one's relation to others. On the basis of this observation, what is proposed here is a conception of anorexia as bodily intersubjective: Anorexia would involve, via the manipulation of food and eating behavior, the transformation of the subject's body, as a way of impacting her relations to others. The anorexic subject would instrumentalize her eating behavior and bodily shape to address others, thereby putting them in a position to respond to her meaningfully, by manifesting their sensitivity to her desire. Importantly, in this view, anorexia is not positioned on the intersubjective scene by opposition to the bodily and alimentary scene; rather, what is proposed is that anorexic sufferance is intersubjective insofar as it is bodily. After some clinical observations describing how anorexia is bodily intersubjective in a concrete way, an overview allows for consideration of whether this conception of anorexia conflicts with or is supported by the main approaches that are currently influential in this field.

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