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Anorexia and Mimetic Desire

René Girard

Publication Year: 2013

René Girard shows that all desires are contagious—and the desire to be thin is no exception. In this compelling new book, Girard ties the anorexia epidemic to what he calls mimetic desire: a desire imitated from a model. Girard has long argued that, far from being spontaneous, our most intimate desires are copied from what we see around us. In a culture obsessed with thinness, the rise of eating disorders should be no surprise. When everyone is trying to slim down, Girard asks, how can we convince anorexic patients to have a healthy outlook on eating? Mixing theoretical sophistication with irreverent common sense, Girard denounces a “culture of anorexia” and takes apart the competitive impulse that fuels the game of conspicuous non-consumption. He shows that showing off a slim physique is not enough—the real aim is to be skinnier than one’s rivals. In the race to lose the most weight, the winners are bound to be thinner and thinner. Taken to extremes, this tendency to escalation can only lead to tragic results. Featuring a foreword by neuropsychiatrist Jean-Michel Oughourlian and an introductory essay by anthropologist Mark R. Anspach, the volume concludes with an illuminating conversation between René Girard, Mark R. Anspach, and Laurence Tacou.

Published by: Michigan State University Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Foreword

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pp. vii-xiv

...It is clear, then, that the natural need to eat, to feed oneself, can become mimetically overloaded and transformed first into a desire, then into a passionate desire, either to deprive oneself of food or to gorge oneself. The idea that both anorexia and bulimia...

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Introduction: Anorexia and the Spirit of the Times

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pp. xv-xxxvi

...It was not always so. In 1911, French physician Francis Heckel wrote that his patients sometimes resisted losing weight, preferring to “stay obese for reasons of fashionable appearance.” The need to have an “impressive...

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Eating Disorders and Mimetic Desire

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pp. 1-44

...Among younger women, eating disorders are reaching epidemic proportions. Th e most widespread and spectacular at this moment is the most recently identified, the so-called bulimia nervosa, characterized by binge eating followed by “purging,” sometimes through laxatives or diuretics, more oft en through self-induced vomiting. Some researchers claim that in American colleges at least one ...

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A Conversation with René Girard,

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pp. 45-73

...My interest in the subject goes all the way back to my childhood. Th ere were cases of anorexia—not very severe but real enough—in my own family, in particular a young cousin whom I talk about in the text. Consequently, when I read Claude Vigée’s book....

Notes

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pp. 74-76


E-ISBN-13: 9781609173760
E-ISBN-10: 1609173767
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611860870
Print-ISBN-10: 1611860873

Page Count: 112
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1st
Series Title: Breakthroughs in Mimetic Theory
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth