Body, Heal Thyself! Journaling as a Form of Self-Help in Response to Trauma

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Abstract

Reviews the book, Creating Bodies: Eating Disorders as Self-Destructive Survival by Katie Gentile (see record 2006-12783-000), in which the author illustrates how even the most seemingly self-destructive symptoms are also attempts at communication and identity formation. Gentile provides a longitudinal study of “Hannah” by analyzing her 16 diaries, kept from ages 14 to 33. Although most people rely on diaries to create a concrete, chronological story that orders their life, Hannah's diaries are most revealing in their nonlinear and nonverbal aspects. At times the diary entries are short, carefully measured details of the day. At times they are lists. At times it is difficult to know whether Hannah was writing about the past, present, or future. While also analyzing the content of the diaries, Gentile parallels the way Hannah wrote in her diary with what was going in on her life and her mind. As one reads the analysis, several themes emerge that demonstrate the multi-determined functions Hannah's eating disorder served: eating order as subjugation, rebellion, and self-creation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)

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