Think Pieces - A Desire for Anorexia: Living Through Distress

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Colleges, School and Institutes


This Think Piece reflects on the desire to maintain an existing illness, based on the narratives of individuals diagnosed with anorexia. Informants’ descriptions of anorexia as a ‘friend’ that may ‘look after you’ problematize taken-for-granted boundaries between health and harm, illness and care. Framed as a precarious and painful solution to distress, the illness is described as a way in which to live through, and move beyond, the present moment. It emerges as an ambivalent modality of self-care that may be actively maintained. Such accounts invite consideration of what desire is and how it acts in the day-to-day lives of individuals with anorexia. By engaging with these questions, the Think Piece asks how such desire might be ethically approached, read, and attended to, and what challenges it poses to habitual ways of thinking and doing in medical anthropology.


Original languageEnglish
JournalMedicine Anthropology Theory
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2016