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Bodies

by Susie Orbach
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publishing date: 03/03/2009
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780312427207
  • ISBN: 0312427204

Synopsis

Esteemed Psychotherapist and writer Susie Orbach diagnoses the crisis in our relationship to our bodies and points the way toward a process of healing.

Throughout the Western world, people have come to believe that general dissatisfaction can be relieved by some change in their bodies. Here Susie Orbach explains the origins of this condition, and examines its implications for all of us. Challenging the Freudian view that bodily disorders originate and progress in the mind, Orbach argues that we should look at self-mutilation, obesity, anorexia, and plastic surgery on their own terms, through a reading of the body itself. Incorporating the latest research from neuropsychology, as well as case studies from her own practice, she traces many of these fixations back to the relationship between mothers and babies, to anxieties that are transferred unconsciously, at a very deep level, between the two. Orbach reveals how vulnerable our bodies are, how susceptible to every kind of negative stimulus--from a nursing infant sensing a mother's discomfort to a grown man or woman feeling inadequate because of a model on a billboard. That vulnerability makes the stakes right now tremendously high.

 

In the past several decades, a globalized media has overwhelmed us with images of an idealized, westernized body, and conditioned us to see any exception to that ideal as a problem. The body has become an object, a site of production and commerce in and of itself. Instead of our bodies making things, we now make our bodies. Susie Orbach reveals the true dimensions of the crisis, and points the way toward healing and acceptance.

Susie Orbach is the co-founder of the Women's Therapy Centre in London and New York. A former Guardian (UK) columnist, she was visiting professor for ten years at the London School of Economics. She is a consultant and co-originator of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. The author of a number of books, including On Eating, The Impossibility of Sex, and the bestseller Fat is a Feminist Issue, she lectures extensively worldwide.

Throughout the Western world, people have come to believe that general dissatisfaction can be relieved by some change in their bodies. Here Susie Orbach explains the origins of this condition, and examines its implications for all of us. Challenging the Freudian view that bodily disorders originate and progress in the mind, Orbach argues that we should look at self-mutilation, obesity, anorexia, and plastic surgery on their own terms, through a reading of the body itself. Incorporating the latest research from neuropsychology, as well as case studies from her own practice, she traces many of these fixations back to the relationship between mothers and babies, to anxieties that are transferred unconsciously, at a very deep level, between the two. Orbach reveals how vulnerable our bodies are, how susceptible to every kind of negative stimulus?from a nursing infant sensing a mother's discomfort to a grown man or woman feeling inadequate because of a model on a billboard. That vulnerability makes the stakes right now tremendously high.

In the past several decades, a globalized media has overwhelmed us with images of an idealized, westernized body, and conditioned us to see any exception to that ideal as a problem. The body has become an object, a site of production and commerce in and of itself. Instead of our bodies making things, we now make our bodies. Susie Orbach reveals the true dimensions of the crisis, and points the way toward healing and acceptance.

"There was a time, believe it or not, when our bodies worked for us, instead of the other way around. In her new book, Bodies, British author and psychologist Susie Orbach examines how science, culture and globalization have upended our relationships to our corporeal selves, turning us from master into slave. Good looks and peak fitness are no longer a happy biological gift, she argues, but a ceaseless pursuit. The idea: People around the world?men included?now treat their bodies as vanity projects: every pore, curve and feature is an opportunity for self-improvement. Instead of a tool for production, the body is a production in itself. In our culture, beauty is an ambition like any other metric of success, and body hatred is the West's silent export. The evidence: How much do you need? When Orbach penned her first book 31 years ago, the bestseller Fat Is a Feminist Issue, bulimia and anorexia were barely on the radar. Now parents digitally enhance their kids' baby pictures, the cosmetic-surgery industry is growing by $1 billion a year, we can genetically screen our embryos, and scientists grow bioengineered organs in labs. The conclusion: As nips and tucks and tweaks become more acceptable, we may no longer treat the human body as a God-given accident of biology, but Orbach implores us to take some pleasure in our bodies as they are?to take them, she writes repeatedly, 'for granted.'"?Jesse Ellison, Newsweek

"There was a time, believe it or not, when our bodies worked for us, instead of the other way around. In her new book, Bodies, British author and psychologist Susie Orbach examines how science, culture and globalization have upended our relationships to our corporeal selves, turning us from master into slave. Good looks and peak fitness are no longer a happy biological gift, she argues, but a ceaseless pursuit. The idea: People around the world?men included?now treat their bodies as vanity projects: every pore, curve and feature is an opportunity for self-improvement. Instead of a tool for production, the body is a production in itself. In our culture, beauty is an ambition like any other metric of success, and body hatred is the West's silent export. The evidence: How much do you need? When Orbach penned her first book 31 years ago, the bestseller Fat Is a Feminist Issue, bulimia and anorexia were barely on the radar. Now parents digitally enhance their kids' baby pictures, the cosmetic-surgery industry is growing by $1 billion a year, we can genetically screen our embryos, and scientists grow bioengineered organs in labs. The conclusion: As nips and tucks and tweaks become more acceptable, we may no longer treat the human body as a God-given accident of biology, but Orbach implores us to take some pleasure in our bodies as they are?to take them, she writes repeatedly, 'for granted.'"?Jesse Ellison, Newsweek
 
"A timely and powerful polemic . . . on the western obsession with achieving physical perfection."?The Guardian (UK)

"A smart and rich compendium of what is going on within and without our bodies today, its pages informed by Orbach's decades of clinical practice and research."?The Times (London)

"A cogent, relevant look at the contemporary body in crisis. British psychoanalyst Orbach has written extensively on women and eating disorders since the 1978 publication of her classic  Fat Is a Feminist Issue. She finds the current obsession with the perfectibility of the human body deeply troubling. We are assaulted daily by promises to cure obesity, skin ailments, sexual distress and signs of aging, she notes. 'Body hatred is becoming one of the West’s hidden exports,' as are such attempts to resolve it as Korean girls undergoing the procedure to insert a Western eyelid. Orbach advances two theories about the collective  crises de corps. There is no such thing as a 'natural body,' she argues, since each of us is the product of a set of cultural and familial attachments that we carry in our bodies, 'shaped and misshaped by our earliest encounters with parents and carers.' Secondly, she believes this is the last moment in history that we inhabit bodies 'which are familiar to us'; cellular, surgical, biological and pharmaceutical enhancements promise (or threaten) to let us buy the perfect body the way we buy flattering clothes. Orbach looks closely at several extreme cases of body-mind distress, such as a man who could not be happy unless his legs were amputated. Several essays emphasize the importance of touch in infant and child development, contending that youngsters instinctively pick up the bodily distress that their parents carry. Orbach also chronicles the 'countertransferences' she assumed while treating physically uneasy patients. 'Body difficulties' are becoming more prevalent in the consultation rooms of therapists like herself, she comments. The demands we put on our bodies to perform and display produce 'volatility and instability.' Beware, she warns, or our bodies will bite back.  The only flaw in Orbach’s reasoned, wise essays is that they’re so low-key they may not get the attention they deserve."?Kirkus Reviews

"Orbach delves into the touchy subject of commercial exploitation of 'the body' and explores how modern culture is eroding individual appreciation of the unaltered human form. She uses specific case studies (often extreme) from her own practice to show the long term effects that can result from body dissatisfaction. From a man desperate to cut off his own legs to an abused child whose body stubbornly refuses to grow normally, examples of the price paid for negative body image abound in the text. Orbach delves also into the pop culture surge of cosmetic surgery and the long standing battle against our celebrity culture. She is at her strongest when relying on straight forward discussions of how bodies have been transformed from evidence of hard work to a 'form of work' themselves. Our bodies, she explains, have changed 'from being the means of production to the production itself'. Orbach’s text thus neatly provides yet another example of our national d...

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  • the slavery of body pefection
    From Amazon

    The book is very interesting. It criticizes the social model of body perfection, that creates a lot of problems in the persons, that feel unhappy with the body size that is not exactly what is determined by the cultural reference. It is one mental slavery dr Octavio Maia Saliba psychiatric

  • The disembodied body
    From Amazon

    A wonderful fusion of modern psychoanalytic perspectives, feminist analysis, neuropsychology, case studies, original thinking, and poignant writing, _Bodies_ traces how the interplay between body vulnerability and societal ideals has resulted in today's crisis levels of body dissatisfaction. Orbach proposes the original idea of a critical period for "body acquisition" (similar to that of language acquisition) during which time a young child develops a sense of being in his or her body. The ability to achieve a sense that one's body is stable and reliable ultimately depends on the quality of attachment to the caregiver, as well as the caregiver's ability to be comfortable with their own body (as "every body is made with the intimate imprint of the familial body story"). Children who do not successfully gain a sense of body stability become the teenagers and adults who are most vulnerable to succumbing to the messages of the globalized media and perpetually manipulating their body into the idealized westernized body. Orbach explains how as a result of this never-ending battle, "the body has become a casing for fantasy rather than a place from which to live." The solution for this dis-embodiment, she suggests, lies in "engaging with the difficulties that our bodies present to us at a psychological, personal, and social level." By learning how to embody our bodies, we will be able to fully live in them--instead of in the hopes that they could be something more. Although _Bodies_ may be a small book, its content is profound and largely pertains to any and every body.

  • Applause for Bodies
    From Amazon

    "Scandinavian women who believe they're too tall can get their legs shortened by having a surgeon break the femur bones and cut them down to a desirable length. Chinese men and women wanting the opposite can have a four-inch metal rod implanted in their upper legs to add height. Approximately half of Korean girls today are westernizing their eyes. Men worldwide are signing up for phalloplasty procedures--to enlarge and lengthen their [...] Even though I wrote this text as part of my review of Susie Orbach's latest book Bodies, I still can't help but shake my head each time I read it. Orbach, renowned UK psychotherapist and one of the driving forces behind Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty, opened my eyes to the true nature of our relationship with our bodies. I've always known that the media has played a part in my own personal struggle to accept my body, but after reading Bodies abundant with realities such as, "2,000 to 5,000 times a week, we receive images of bodies enhanced by digital manipulation," I now recognize the full extent to which the media and our environment negatively affects how we view and feel about our bodies. Despite the the alarming facts, what I appreciate most about her book is that she left me feeling hopeful. Pick up a copy and become inspired to cultivate a life without body shame, without the need to remodel yourself against an unattainable Western ideal. [...]

  • Thought-provoking!
    From Amazon

    Orbach argues that our bodies are no longer our homes, but instead are a presentation piece that we constantly shape - through surgery, cosmetics, weight loss and weight gain - to convince the world that we are what we aspire to be. She illustrates her thesis with interesting - occasionally horrifying - stories. For example; in 1995, the World Health Organization changed it's definition of Body Mass Index (BMI) By that new definition, Brad Pitt became "overweight", and George Clooney became "obese". I'll spare you the story of the man who didn't like his legs, but Orbach opens the book with it. Why should this matter? For one thing, she believes that the range of what constitutes "beauty" is being narrowed by the advertising we see constantly. And that is a loss - we shouldn't all have to be tall, thin, and blond to be considered beautiful.

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