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Gray, S.H. (1996). Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic. LVII, 1993. Body and Self in Feminine Development: Implications for Eating Disorders and Delicate Self-Mutilation. Lisa W. Cross. Pp. 41-68.. Psychoanal Q., 65:676.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 65:676

Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic. LVII, 1993. Body and Self in Feminine Development: Implications for Eating Disorders and Delicate Self-Mutilation. Lisa W. Cross. Pp. 41-68.

Review by:
Sheila Hafter Gray

The author postulates that eating disorders and delicate self-mutilation are associated deviations of feminine development. She believes that the syndrome of fasting and stigmata that has been observed in certain Christian holy women throughout history is identical to this clinical picture. Both are attempts to gain power over one's body by making it known and impervious, in contrast to a normative feminine view of one's body as mysterious and invaded by lover or child. Until the late nineteenth century, women who practiced holy anorexia tended to gain prestige and social power. In their quest for power over others, which they now rarely achieve, contemporary patients tend toward sadomasochistic relationships. They seem to confound oral, anal, and phallic aspects of their experience of the body. Unable to come to terms with the hidden, ambiguous, and unruly aspects of the female body, they frequently split self from the body it inhabits.

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