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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  452 ratings  ·  54 reviews
An esteemed psychologist examines how cultural forces have conspired to bring about a crisis in the way we experience our bodies. Bodies is a plea for us all to understand that the postmodern body is in a state of crisis. Challenging the traditional Freudian view that bodily disorders originate and progress in the mind, Orbach argues that destructive tendencies such as ano ...more
Paperback, 182 pages
Published December 1st 2009 by Profile Books(GB) (first published 2009)
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Sharon Haywood
"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
Elevate Difference
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
*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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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
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
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.
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
Thoroughly enjoyed. Struck a perfect balance between writing for an analytic audience and the broader public. Interesting thoughts in parenting and early life experiences.
Still haven't finished it but I'm getting more and more interested in issues relating to body image, fat hate, health at every size, the diet industry and so forth. Of course it stems from my own issues, insecurities and disorders, but the personal is political and so forth.

So far it's been a good read. I was already familiar with most of the ideas she presents here (having read about them in various articles and blog posts) but reading the original text with references and all is always apprec
A fascinating and frightening book about how western society has changed the body from what someone is born with and has all their life into something that has to be tweaked, cut, changed and perfected into what the media tells us we should be aspiring too. Some of the inferences are terrifying. Maybe in 30 years time or so, no-one in the west who can afford it will have a natural body any longer.

The case studies were fascinating, along the lines of those in Oliver Sachs "The man who mistook his
There was nothing 'wrong' with this book, but it definitely wasn't what I was expecting. I'm surprised by all the comments in the positive reviews of the book, mainly because it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. I felt that it started to go in the direction I was expecting right near the end and by that point, the book was almost finished. It was interesting to read the case studies of people Orbach had dealt with over the years but aside from this, nothing really grabbed my attenti ...more
This book is an enjoyable (and yet also distressing) meditation on the purpose of our bodies, and how they've become sites of production and commercialization. Orbach, a psychoanalyst from NYC and London, argues that we now view our bodies as sources of labor, as objects that are infinitely malleable. She expresses a hope that someday we'll live from our bodies, comfortably, but there's nothing in the book that makes this seem likely.
"Work That Body" -- that's what I was thinking as I read this. Orbach's contention is that bodies have become a site of production in our late capitalist context. She illustrates through fascinating case studies how insufficient we are at thinking/talking about relationships between physiology and psychology; it's a small, fascinating book, and I find myself thinking differently about psychosomatic conditions.
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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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