Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Embodiment of Control: An Anthropological Study of Pro-anorexia Websites
by Howard, Alexea N., M.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2019, 79; 22583431
Abstract (Summary)

Pro-anorexia (or pro-ana/ ProAna) websites are those that uphold a view of anorexia as a means of empowerment through controlling one’s body, and not as an illness that one suffers. These websites are maintained by individuals who promote anorexia as a lifestyle by choice and guide others to maintain these behaviors. This poses a public health concern as anorexia nervosa has the highest recorded mortality rate of diagnosed mental illnesses. Specifically, a meta-analysis focused on mortality rates for clinically diagnosed anorexics which included thirty-six studies that were conducted internationally, found that the standard mortality ratio for this population is 5.86. Using participant observation of online communities focused on Pro-Anorexia, this study considers the ways that community, the mind and body connection, and a sense of agency in one’s health and body are facilitated through the pro-anorexia movement. Taking a Foucauldian perspective of biopower and biopolitics and combining them with the literature on agency, illness narratives, and gender-politics, this study will discuss the ways that anorexia is communicated and maintained through pro-­anorexia communities. This study is important to public health initiatives aimed at lessening rates of anorexia and supporting the mental health of adolescents, as well as providing culturally relevant insight to psychologists interested in this phenomenon.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Loewe, Ronald
Commitee: Klein, Wendy, Douglas, Thomas
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 81/4(E), Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Social research, Behavioral Sciences
Keywords: Agency, Anorexia, Illness Narratives, Pro-Anorexia
Publication Number: 22583431
ISBN: 9781687953117
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