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3.8  ·  Rating details ·  651 Ratings  ·  75 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
Paperback, 216 pages
Published March 3rd 2009 by St. Martins Press-3pl (first published 2009)
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SoManyBooks SoLittleTime (Aven Shore)
A quick exposition of body and body image issues, a call to bring attention to the divide between identity and image; how thoroughly separated we can be (and are socialized to be in Western society) from the physical forms we inhabit.
Left me wishing for a more thorough treatment, as everything seemed to be a flash example, quite surface. I suppose that is what is promised by "small books, big ideas".
Sharon Haywood
Mar 27, 2009 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

Susie Orbach ist eine Koryphäe auf dem Gebiet der Psychoanalyse und der Psychotherapie. Als Expertin für Essstörungen und das enge Verhältnis von Körper und Selbstwertgefühl führt sie seit Jahrzehnten eine Praxis in London, gründete 1976 das „Women’s Therapy Centre“, veröffentlichte mehrere Bücher (darunter der Bestseller Anti-Diät Buch) und behandelte Prinzessin Diana wegen ihrer Bulimie. Sie ist eine engagierte Feministin, die unermüdlich die Prozesse unserer Gesellschaft demaskiert, die un
Elevate Difference
Apr 18, 2009 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
Feb 25, 2012 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
Sep 06, 2013 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
Jan 17, 2012 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
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
this is a good, basic, brief overview about some of the reasons humans might feel uncomfortable in their bodies. orbach argues that body discomfort may not always originate in the mind- for example, people with anorexia are often told that they are struggling with mental control issues rather than actual body issues- but could be a direct result of body trauma.

i don't know if i would actually give this book to someone who is struggling with body issues themselves, but it's an interesting read fo
Nov 11, 2017 rated it liked it
In Bodies, readers are shown the powerful commonality among the way the Western world looks at our bodies: through the lens of change. From diet to plastic surgery to body integrity disorder, the first thing most of us see when we look at our body is how we can change it. Orbach explores this further, delving into the causes that lead our bodies into these vulnerable places. Using research and observations from her own psychological practice, she ties most of this bodily dissatisfaction to the r ...more
Jun 14, 2010 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 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
May 26, 2009 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
Feb 16, 2014 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
Jun 29, 2009 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
Jan 06, 2011 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 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
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
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fascinating read, one which addresses the dark side of the postmodern "body as performance". The book is both hard-hitting and largely free of academic jargon, which makes it all the more interesting; I profoundly identified with many passages, particularly those exploring the moralization of dealing with one's body.

I don't entirely agree with Orbach's analysis of body issues--she bases much of her model on psychoanalysis, and so reproduces the gender issues of that ideology. For example, her
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. The information isn't too groundbreaking at this point, but it's interesting. There are some outdated views on trans people at the beginning, though.
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not a parent, but seems like it would be a great resource for those raising children.
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting read, but it made me feel so anxious every time I was reading it--for that reason alone I wouldn't recommend this one
I am finally admitting 4 years later that I am never going to finish this :(
Oct 20, 2015 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?"
Aug 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
I found this book connecting a variety of psychological problems people have with their bodies, disappointing. Susie Orbach is famous for her pioneering work on body hatred. She's a good writer and here she puts together some ideas that illuminate each other by their proximity. At the same time, she has a chapter in here in which she effectively compares a man who wants to amputate his legs to a trans woman. I can't even describe how uncomfortable I was with this. (A specific man and a specific, ...more
Jun 16, 2014 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
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
Mar 27, 2015 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
Apr 11, 2014 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
Apr 29, 2009 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
Alyce Hunt
Sep 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Verging into flights of fantasy when Susie describes experiencing a full body humming feeling due to a patient's discontent with her body, 'Bodies' is brilliant when Susie isn't treating it like a memoir.
Fascinating psychological case studies from throughout history (such as Victor of Aveyron) are seamlessly sewn together and compared with attitudes to the bodies in the current media-dominated climate. Broken up into easy to digest sections (admittedly featuring convoluted and repetitive languag
Nov 14, 2014 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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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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