Asserting that social forces have contributed to the epidemic of anorexia nervosa during the last 20 years, psychologist Orbach, author of Fat Is a Feminist Issue, argues that sufferers must come to terms with psychological pressures against which they protest by starving themselves. Addressing both patients and therapists, Orbach cites cases of anorectics of all ages and personalities to demonstrate that the defeminizing of their bodies through anorexia is an unconscious attempt to deal with the contrasting roles of sex object, super-mom and career woman that society expects them to play. She equates today's anorectics' refusal to eat with hunger strikes by suffragettes. Orbach also strongly advocates self-help measures, with the aid ofa support group. Her message: eating habits should be modified voluntarily, and only after the negative outside pressures have been understood by the anorectic. (February 24)
The author of Fat Is a Feminist Issue here shares her understanding of anorexia nervosa as a symbol and leitmotif of modern cultural forces. She presents the anorectic as everywoman, evoking the large numbers of women who deprive themselves to match notions of the ideal female form. Orbach suggests that the anorectic may be more achievement-oriented than most, and often in open rebellion against oppressive roles and expectations. This portrayal rejects some myths about anorexiathat it only afflicts the affluent, that its victims are always young, that anorectics are infantilized and best handled in institutional settingsproposing intead that anorectics can work in self-help groups, and that weight gain should not be insisted upon as a first goal of therapy. Highly recommended. Beverly Miller, Boise State Univ. Lib., Id.