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Miasmatic calories and saturating fats : fear of contamination in anorexia.

Warin, M. (2003) 'Miasmatic calories and saturating fats : fear of contamination in anorexia.', Culture, medicine and psychiatry., 27 (1). pp. 77-93.


This paper draws on ethnographic material to challenge the taken-for-granted relationship between anorexia and fear of fat. While popular understandings assume anorexia to be an extension of everyday dietary guidelines and a fear of weight gain from foods high in fats and calories, I argue that it is fear of contamination rather than fear of fat per se that is at issue. Through a critique and extension of Mary Douglas' structuralist typology and Julia Kristeva's embodied theory of abjection, I demonstrate that it is the qualities of certain foods, and in particular their amorphous natures, that render them contaminating. Saturating fats and invisible calories are considered dangerous by people with anorexia because they have the ability to move, seep, and infiltrate the body through the interplay of senses. Foods that transgress conceptual and bodily boundaries are thus to be avoided at all costs, for they have the potential to defile and pollute. In light of the low recovery rates for those with anorexia within Australia (and internationally), the findings of this paper have significant implications for the understanding and treatment of this disorder.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Abjection, Anorexia, Contamination, Relatedness.
Full text:Full text not available from this repository.
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Record Created:28 Mar 2008
Last Modified:26 Nov 2009 12:19

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