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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: John D. Mead, PhD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This is an anthology of feminist writings about the nature and treatment of eating disorders, the first of its kind to the best of my knowledge. It is organized into five broadly defined sections on historical trends, gender issues, body image, treatment, and prevention.
Purpose: The intent is to assemble in one volume the body of knowledge that describes the contextual or sociocultural nature of this gender-related disorder. In selecting material, the authors disclaim a unified "feminist model" but include pieces that reflect the common principles of the psychology of women, a commitment to equality of women, and a reevaluation of therapy based on gender-specific issues.
Audience: The primary audiences are mental health professionals, students, patients, and others interested in the psychology of women and the feminist movement. Women's studies programs would find this useful reading.
Features: The authors are well recognized in the fields of eating disorders and feminist issues. Contributors range from those relatively unknown to those extensively published in the scientific and popular press. Individual writings vary from original pieces to summarizations of previous work.
Assessment: Irrespective of one's political or personal views regarding the feminist movement, its enormous impact on the field of eating disorders must be acknowledged. It has become arguably the most comprehensive theoretical model for understanding the etiology, epidemiology, and phenomenology of the disorder. Nearly an entire new generation of female therapists (even those not identifying as feminists) now look to this perspective for guidance in conducting clinical work and shaping new directions in the field. The fact that this book so masterfully articulates this sociocultural perspective warrants a strong endorsement. Shortcomings of the model (the fact that much of it remains untestable or that it fails to fully explain the gender mystery) do not detract from the significance of this work.