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Bodies

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  514 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
Esteemed Psychotherapist and writer Susie Orbach diagnoses the crisis in our relationship to our bodies and points the way toward a process of healing.


Throughout the Western world, people have come to believe that general dissatisfaction can be relieved by some change in their bodies. Here Susie Orbach explains the origins of this condition, and examines its implications f
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 3rd 2009 by Picador (first published 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,181)
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Sharon Haywood
Jul 11, 2009 Sharon Haywood rated it it was amazing
"Scandinavian women who believe they’re too tall can get their legs shortened by having a surgeon break the femur bones and cut them down to a desirable length. Chinese men and women wanting the opposite can have a four-inch metal rod implanted in their upper legs to add height. Approximately half of Korean girls today are westernizing their eyes. Men worldwide are signing up for phalloplasty procedures—to enlarge and lengthen their penis..."

Even though I wrote this text as part of my review of
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Elevate Difference
Apr 18, 2009 Elevate Difference rated it it was amazing
In Bodies, Susie Orbach, best known for her continuous thread of psychoanalytic discussion of the body particularly as rooted in eating disorders and feminism, offers up a broader discussion of bodies in our time. For Orbach, that time is the age of late capitalism where bodies no longer perform work or produce, but are the element of production themselves: “The body is turning from being the means of production to the production itself.”

Addressing not only the psychologists’ terrain of investig
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Deb
Feb 25, 2012 Deb rated it it was amazing
*The disembodied body*

A wonderful fusion of modern psychoanalytic perspectives, feminist analysis, neuropsychology, case studies, original thinking, and poignant writing, _Bodies_ traces how the interplay between body vulnerability and societal ideals has resulted in today's crisis levels of body dissatisfaction.

Orbach proposes the original idea of a critical period for "body acquisition" (similar to that of language acquisition) during which time a young child develops a sense of being in his
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Jenny
Feb 13, 2012 Jenny rated it it was amazing
Susie Orbach addresses questions which have arisen in my mind about the current focus in our culture on the quest for better, more perfect bodies. We are surrounded by images of beauty and we are led to believe that we can all become "more beautiful" if only we ate less, exercised more, submit to chemical or surgical enhancement of our imperfect bodies. Suzie Orbach provides examples of how the focus on perfecting our external bodies seems only to reinforce insecurities as we fail to achieve the ...more
April
Jun 07, 2013 April rated it really liked it
A quick read. I didn't really know what I was getting into here, a bit intense at times in discussing some extreme body issues. Yet, fascinating. Follows the roots of body issues way back...in the same family as Ashely Montagu's Touching (highly recommended)

Some good stuff in here.....the development of the baby's sense of self, exposure to stress and the effects of unrelieved stress in early life and it's impact upon the development of the body's regulatory abilities/cortisol levels...impact up
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Sophoula
Oct 06, 2013 Sophoula rated it really liked it
Susie Orbach's project in Bodies is laudable -- she attempts to expose and undermine the cultural assault on body consciousness. However, I came away from the book feeling that either it needed to be 100 pages shorter or 500 pages longer. By presenting a panoply of body "issues" ranging from self-harm to body dysmorphia to dissociation, Orbach fails to address any of these topics thoroughly. And, by doing so, (in my opinion), she fails to afford the care and respect each issue necessitates. As a ...more
Kara
May 26, 2009 Kara rated it liked it
This is an interesting little book. I think that Orbach has really put her finger on the nature of our American modern relationship to the body and the way it is seens as a site of self-improvement and self-expression, no longer the source of productive labor but the focus of it. At the same time, I think her analysis might have benefited from expanding beyond her psychoanalytic background - to take just one example, she seems to lump transsexuals with people who have a desire to have a limb amp ...more
Klelly
Feb 16, 2014 Klelly rated it liked it
the book's major premise, which really resonated with me, is making a distinction between the body as sight of production, a project to be cultivated throughout a lifetime, to be regulated, remade, controlled, to be an ongoing sight of crisis vs. bodies as the site where a persons subject-hood is situated, through which a person lives. I liked some of her social analysis though pieces of it were generalized or bad. she has a good critique of the bodily disconnect costs of internet social presenc ...more
Seanie
Jun 29, 2009 Seanie rated it really liked it
so this was an unexpected read: a quick but relatively effective ear bending series of essays. i got it based on her interview on colbert report. once cracked, i was kind of surprised as to the content of the book. it initially delves into abnormal psychological conditions that lead people to do horrendous things to bodies (read about the gentleman who had his legs purposefully amputated to align to his body identification). but then it takes that perspective of abnormal body perception & mo ...more
Sara
Jan 06, 2011 Sara rated it liked it
I thought this book was very good-- which surprised me, because I tend to dislike psychoanalysis. Orbach uses a variety of research and anecdotes, however, in a way that both put forth some compelling arguments and also seemed to be inviting a dialogue. I rated this book a 3.5, though, because I don't think Orbach did a sufficient job of carrying the conversation on her own. This book prompted me to think critically about a number of issues surrounding the body, but many of what I thought were s ...more
Jenny Shipp
Jan 26, 2010 Jenny Shipp rated it it was amazing
I am loving this book! She is turning my head around about how I see my body and how all of us have been changed by our culture. I know, no big surprise. But it is a big surprise in some ways. The prose is great, smooth reading. She is a therapist and currently we just read through a chapter about therapy that was interesting-how HER body responds to the trauma her clients feel in dealing with food/body issues. Now we are discussing the large "change your body, it's all possible" issue. She wrot ...more
Tahleen
Once again my former psych professor hit gold with this recommendation. Susie Orbach does a fantastic job at looking at the body, how our culture sees it and the way it should be seen: as a place where we must live. She points out that we have made the body into a personal project that each individual feels the pressure to take on, whether by working out, losing weight, or through controlling aspects like cutting and eating disorders. I highly recommend this one; it says something we all need to ...more
Adam Neve
"Tucked into the notions of thinness and fatness, are complex social and psychological ideas and feelings that are having difficulty being expressed correctly," argues Susie Orbach in Bodies, a book that examines the way society shapes individuals to view a host of ideas involving corporeality.

Orbach delves into some pretty extreme cases; a man who despises his legs and wants them amputated and the French artist Orlan who uses plastic surgery to create "carnal art." Many of Orbach's ideas her
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Rachael Hall
Jul 10, 2014 Rachael Hall rated it it was amazing
After having been on something of a pop-sci non-fiction binge over the past few months, the more academic and dry tone of Bodies was at first something of a shock to the system. It's something that can be handled in small measured doses, I'd read half a chapter or so on the sub-way to work, have time to mull it over while I spent the day punching in numbers, and read a little more on the trip home.

The was our bodies are presented in the media, and the changing relationship that we have with them
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Madeline
Apr 10, 2009 Madeline rated it really liked it
One of the best things about this book - which clearly, everyone on the planet should read, but probably won't - was the case studies of people she's treated. Fascinating.
Julie
May 19, 2014 Julie rated it it was amazing
Will we ever be able to look beyond size? Why are we so terrified of fat? Just the other day an endocrinologist told me I should aim to eat a total of 1,200 calories and walk 5,000 steps per day. She added that if I ate as much as 1,800 calories I was eating too much! Everyone I discussed this with thought that 1,200 calories was unhealthy! Did my doctor look at my proportions and unique body shape or did she look at a generic chart to figure out what I should weigh? I have discovered that I nee ...more
SooYoung
Mar 14, 2016 SooYoung rated it it was amazing
I don't know if everyone will find the ideas in this book compelling, or if I did just because I have mind-body issues, and the relationship I have with my body is something I think a lot about. But hopefully everyone could gain something from this short reader (short but somewhat dense).

Orbach suggests that "a search for contentment focused around the body is a hallmark of our times." (16) The book explores a lot of basic, but profound, questions -- "Why is bodily contentment so hard to find?"
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Eleana
May 29, 2015 Eleana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was a bit of a let down to be completely honest. I guess maybe this wasn't aimed for me though but rather was written for people with experience in psychoanalysis.
Either way a lot of the time this book was quite repetitive and kept coming back to the same points. The last chapter did help clear some things up but while I was reading this book a lot of the information did not really connect and it just read like angry rambling. Not to mention that chapters with less original ideas, like
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Sarah
This book was not about what I thought it was going to be about. I saw the author, Susie Orbach, interviewed on The Colbert Report and was interested in her perspective on obesity. She is disturbed by our culture's attitude toward the body as a project, the brutality with which we judge our bodies, and our desperate pursuit to transform our bodies into "sites of display" and make them perform as we imagine they should. Orbach calls our cultural imperative to be fit and youthful a "gross social p ...more
Jenn
Aug 19, 2009 Jenn rated it it was ok
Hmmm how to start. I liked the premise of this book and the overall message that today bodies are manufactured into what we want them to be instead of showing off the beauty in what we were born with. I also liked the cultural comparisons with cultures of the past using differences in bodies as being important for identification and in many cases signs of importance versus today's global culture where we all strive to fit into the "norm". This book was not an easy read though, and might have bee ...more
Karen Melvin
May 04, 2016 Karen Melvin rated it it was amazing
An incredibly thoughtful look into how we relate to, fixate on, and alter our bodies particularly in Western culture. Suzie Orbach is a British psychotherapist who not only deconstructs body image, but she also shares stories from her practice (things like ghost limbs and how we think about our bodies depending on our childhood). This is a book I will keep and read again for certain.
Evan
Jan 01, 2015 Evan rated it liked it
A missed opportunity.

She doesn't seem to be up with the latest phenomenological work on the body, the unreferenced format is frustrating, and the feminism often veers dangerously into biological essentialist territory. This book feels rushed and under prepared. Orbach has a very good reputation, and a fine mind, and this doesn't do her justice. It could have contributed to the field, but it feels like an afterthought that doesn't know how to position itself - populist or academic, intellectually
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Jeremy
Oct 15, 2014 Jeremy rated it really liked it
Susie Orbach is fantastic. Spending time with her in this book makes me both want to do more and more okay with myself. Which is amazing because the book is about the hatred of female bodies. I was totally convinced of everything she said, and even though she wouldn't want me to be, I have become a mindless follower of her. Way to go, you!
Rosi
Mar 18, 2012 Rosi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book Susie Orbach introduces the reader to her theories about the roots of body image issues and the damage they do in our postmodern society. She uses several very different cases from her work as a therapist to illustrate and explain the effects of a deeply instilled insecurity about a person's own body, a problem that seems to have run rampant and that nowadays is affecting a majority of women and, increasingly, also men.
While reflecting on my relationship to my own body as well, I fi
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V
Jan 16, 2016 V rated it really liked it
Wow - it's been over 20 years since I took a Feminist Psych class but this is just as good, in a tidy little book. Lots of studies and citations that will really make you think about your perceptions and attitudes about your body and others' bodies. The parts related to social media and media bombardment in general made this totally relevant for our time.
Jessica
Jun 18, 2011 Jessica rated it really liked it
Stuck in the middle of a 'fat day', I picked this book up just looking for a little relief from the struggle between being myself and being who I am 'supposed' to be. I was just planning on skimming through it while grabbing a coffee in my local Barnes. I sat down and 30 pages later bought it and took it home.
Susie doesn't sugar coat much in this book. It reviews the way we assess our bodies and total worth according to constant words and images being pushed into our heads, which is not a new t
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Chiffchaff Birdy
Mar 15, 2016 Chiffchaff Birdy rated it liked it
It was an enlightening read, although it didn't tell me much that I didn't already know about marketing in the food and diet industry - deliberate chaos and the theory of the obesity epidemic etc.
I would've given the first 2/3 of the book a higher rating as I felt that it lost its way considerably by the end.
Brian
May 09, 2015 Brian rated it it was amazing
A really good short book but it didn't deal with bodily decline. Be careful about reading it if you have considerable body issues because you will probably have to deal with them but the ultimate argument of the book is positive.
Gphatty
Aug 27, 2009 Gphatty rated it really liked it
This book struck the right balance between high-minded academic writing and compelling narrative. She presents ideas clearly, and pulls from numerous examples -- including case studies and larger-scale research -- to help support her points. The only real thing that I didn't enjoy about this book is that it seemed rather hopeless. As Orbach demonstrates, manufacturing the body has been going on for thousands of years, and the ability to change things one doesn't like keeps growing with each pass ...more
Elyse
Apr 03, 2014 Elyse rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed. Struck a perfect balance between writing for an analytic audience and the broader public. Interesting thoughts in parenting and early life experiences.
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Dr. Susie Orbach - the therapist who treated Diana, Princess of Wales, for her eating disorders; the founder of the Women's Therapy Center of London; a former columnist for The Guardian; a visiting professor at the London School of Economics; and the author of 1978 best-seller Fat is a Feminist Issue - is, aside from Sigmund Freud, probably the most famous psychotherapist to have ever set up couch ...more
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