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Bodies [Paperback]

Susie Orbach

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Book Description

March 3 2009

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.


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Review

 

"Orbach provides a rich, nuanced context for the present moment, looking through time and across cultures."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 

"A cogent, relevant look at the contemporary body in crisis."--Kirkus Reviews

 

"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 (UK)

 

"A timely and powerful polemic . . . on the western obsession with achieving physical perfection."--The Guardian (UK)

 

"A timely entry in the current analysis of reality versus fiction that seems to be steadily encompassing all facets of American life."--Booklist


 

Praise for Susie Orbach:

"Virtually all feminist debate on body image and beauty imagery owes its existence to Susie Orbach's enduring formulation."--Naomi Wolf

"Susie Orbach's pioneering work isn't just the first to expose the links between sexual politics and female dieting; it remains the classic work on the subject."--Susan Faludi

"Ms. Orbach extends feminist analysis systematically, convincingly, and movingly to portray the anorectic struggle as a metaphor for our age."--The New York Times Book Review on Hunger Strike

 

About the Author

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 and is the convener of www.any-body.org. She is a consultant and co-originator of the Dove Campaing 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.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Applause for Bodies July 12 2009
By Sharon Haywood - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"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. [...]
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking! June 3 2009
By LAS - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The disembodied body Sept. 7 2009
By Deb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bodies May 17 2013
By Beach Writer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Small book- easier to find essential ideas. Very important work. Reminds to treat body as is with love/ respect. How we are lost to our bodies by accepting the culture's views. Never good enough/beautiful enough. Fix- fix-fix. This book reminds us to breathe in beauty- all of us included.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars Sept. 11 2014
By debra bourne - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An exceptional book. Essential reading for anyone alive in a body, in the 21st Century!

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