The Theological Language of Anorexia: An Argument for Greater Rapprochement between Chaplains and Physicians

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Hannah R. Stammers

Colleges, School and Institutes


This article explores the theological themes prevalent in the language of anorexia nervosa by briefly exploring extant literature in the field before reporting on the author’s qualitative fieldwork with Christian women with anorexia nervosa. Sufferers, both those from religious and non-religious backgrounds, often convey their understanding of their illness in theological and moral language, using terms such as ‘sin’ and ‘sacrifice’. The use of theological frameworks on ‘Pro-Ana’ internet forums is also considered. The article concludes by considering the implications of this use of theological language for pastoral and chaplaincy care, and argues that highly skilled mental health chaplains would be of benefit to treatment models for anorexia nervosa and that community church leaders can pay a crucial role in long-lasting recovery, particularly for anorexic women who profess a Christian faith.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-296
JournalFeminist Theology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2020


  • Ritual, sin, idolatry, anorexia, mental health chaplaincy, pro-ana