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Cargill, K. (2007). Desire, Ritual, and Cuisine. Psychoanal. Rev., 94(2):315-332.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(2):315-332

Desire, Ritual, and Cuisine

Kima Cargill, Ph.D.

In the past decade, what might be called a collective “lust for food” has permeated mainstream American culture. One need not look further than magazine racks, cable television shows, and the Internet to find a society in the grip of an obsession with food and its purveyors. As a departure from the 1950s meat and mashed potatoes mentality, we have evolved into an era in which the desire for creative and beautiful food seems insatiable. This lust for food in popular culture has also been reflected in academic culture: Food studies as a scholarly area of inquiry has seen an explosive growth, with the development of a number of scholarly associations, journals, classes, and conferences devoted to food and foodways (Cargill, 2005; Goldstein, 2002). This interdisciplinary area of study spans the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, and draws from anthropology, sociology, and history, among others. Psychology and psychoanalysis, however, are curiously underrepresented in this body of work, often because they are not viewed by other scholars as relevant. Given that the historical focus of psychoanalysis has been almost exclusively on pathological eating behaviors such as clinical eating disorders and childhood feeding disturbances (Crastnopol, 2001; A. Freud, 1946; Krueger, 1997; Petrucelli & Stuart, 2001; Shainess, 1979), this has served to reinforce the long-standing criticism from both within and outside of the discipline that psychology and psychoanalysis are overly focused on the individual and fail to adequately take social context into account (Ainslie & Brabeck, 2003; Cushman, 1996; Ingham, 1996; Schwartz, White, & Lutz, 1992).


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