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Bodies (Big Ideas) [Paperback]

Susie Orbach
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 26 Jan 2009 --  

Book Description

26 Jan 2009 Big Ideas

In the past decades, the pressure to perfect and design our bodies has been unprecedented. Breast enhancement is a sweet sixteen birthday present in the suburbs of America, while eating problems - from bulimia to obesity - are growing daily, affecting girls as young as six. The body is no longer a given and to possess a flawless one has become the ambition of millions. In China, women are having their legs broken and extended by 5cms. In Iran, behind the Hijab there are 35,000 cosmetic nose reconstructions a year. In Brazil breasts and bottoms are reshaped along with the face so that women there, as in China and Iran (and pretty much everywhere else in reach of global media) can reflect western norms of beauty.

In her years of practice as a psychoanalyst, Susie Orbach has come to realise that the way we view our bodies is the mirror of how we view ourselves: our body becomes the measure of our worth. In this book, she finally raises the fundamental questions about how we got there.

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Bodies (Big Ideas) + Susie Orbach On Eating + Fat Is A Feminist Issue
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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books; First Edition edition (26 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846680190
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846680199
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 1.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A smart and rich compendium of what is going on within and without our bodies today

It was Heracles who killed the poisonous Hydra, and in this brave and significant book, Orbach does battle with a full quiver of her own fire-tipped arrows, her blazing firebrand levelled at self-hatred in all its forms.

(Min Jin Lee The Times)

A must-read (Anna Carey The Gloss)

[It] may change for ever, as it did for me, the way you look at television makeover programmes, journalism that promotes physica self-perfection as "empowerment", and suspiciously svelte photos in glossy adverts. (Lionel Shriver Mail on Sunday 2009-02-08)

Bodies is a timely counterblast against our harsh new visual culture, obsessed with the perfection of the physical self. (Min Jin Lee The Times)

The strength of Orbach's argument in this timely and important book lies in the ease with which she balances the language of psychoanalysis with a discussion of the body's chemistry, and statistical evidence with cultural commentary. Bodies has a mission, and it ends with a manifesto proposing that we "rethink the body in such a way that we can both take it for granted and enjoy it". Whatever the future, Orbach has given us food for thought. (Frances Wilson The Sunday Times 2009-02-08)

Bodies is a terrifying, terrific read. (Chitra Ramaswamy Scotland on Sunday 2009-02-15)

Orbach comes from a psychoanalytic background, and her wide-ranging essay brings together - persuasively and sometimes bravely - a whole range of body anxieties and sets them in context...This is a serious book - and one of the saddest I've read in a long time. It is grounded in compassion, righteous anger and practical good sense...I came to Bodies expecting to find the work of just the sort of self-help hippie I can't stand. I came away having learnt something. We are at war with our own bodies, and both sides are losing. (Sam Leith Daily Mail 2009-02-20)

This vivid, trenchant book seeks to help us live more sustainable and more peacebly with and from our bodies. I don't know anybody who won't be the better for reading it (Psychologies Magazine, South Africa 2009-06-01)

This is a terrific, timely book. Body tyranny has been hurting us for decades... Reading this book made me think: our system makes us want things until we're so damaged that we can't go on, and it's showing on our skinny, obese, scarred, tattooed, pierced and hated bodies. And now it looks like the system is breaking down. Which might be good news for bodies. (William Leith Observer 2009-02-01)

Excellent (Janet Street-Porter Daily Mail 2009-12-14)

Book Description

We may be the last generation to inhabit bodies not routinely reconstructed by surgical enhancements. Over the last decades, our body has become an individual statement and a crucial personal responsibility. For many of us, it is the source of terrible difficulty while for others it is an expensive commodity...

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bodies - Bit passionless 1 April 2009
Bodies (Big Ideas)
I looked forward to reading this book as Susie Orbach's book "Fat is a Feminist Issue" was so engrossing and challenging. The information in Ms Orbach's book is interesting but the examples she uses of her clientele are not run of the mill and somehow seem clinical rather than passionate. I felt like this about the whole book - yes, weighty-people bashing is the demonisation and scapegoating of Reubenesque people, but where's the passion and involvement in the subject? And the summary at the end almost seemed throwaway rather than deeply engaged. It's an interesting book, has good info, but somehow comes across as clinically detached rather than emotionally involved, a bit distanced from the subject. I guess some people would like this approach, but I prefer emotional contact, a more spiritual approach, I guess, outrage at the manipulation of women's and men's bodies which is so disgusting. Sorry to be a bit negative but after the reviews maybe my expectations were a bit too high.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Found this a very relevant book 1 July 2009
By Allyson
Interesting to read the mainly unenthusiastic reviews about this book. I really enjoyed it and found it very relevant and thought-provoking.

The book is about the pressure in our lives today to have the 'perfect' body, to create our bodies and make them perform for us. It talks about the insecurites, confusion and hatred that we project onto our bodies and why this might be.

I can see what other reviewers mean when they talk about the jargon she uses - there is over-use of psychoanalytic language when it is not really needed. There is also a lack of structure to the book as a whole which makes it a little hard to read.

I really liked the content however and Orbach's own insights into body culture today and her own patient cases. She gives us extreme examples - the case of Andrew for example who wanted his legs amputated because they didn't feel right. It was interesting reading in its own right. Then she relates ordinary everyday examples of body hatred or alienation - from people who have surgery to those with eating disorders and those who need to sculpt their body a certain way so it becomes what they want it to be.
Overall, the sense is of people being at odds with their bodies, not living in the body and letting it express its needs. The body becomes 'a suitable, indeed an appropriate, focus for our malaise, aspiration and energy.'

This book made me wonder about the longterm implications of our body culture. It made me wonder what the body's limits are. It's human nature to want more, to fit in, to achieve. It seems that human nature, however, is getting greedier and more extreme every day.

Orbach concludes by asking 'What are bodies for?
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bodies 27 Jan 2009
Bodies is a great book, finally giving an answer as to why we are so concerned by our appearance and the influence our bodies have over our state of mind. Susie Orbach uses vivid case studies to bring the text alive, and makes a clincial book easily accessible to all readers.
I'd definately recommend it.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A meandering disappointment 29 Mar 2009
Having read the glowing reviews and synopses of this book in the Sunday supplements - all of which eulogised the richness, uniqueness and timeliness of Susie Orbach's Bodies (2009) - I was disappointed to find it a hodgepodge of unchecked statistics, extreme examples and a meandering analysis which peters out before it gains cohesive momentum. It might be that expectations were high - Fat is a Feminist Issue (1978) is a longstanding classic and Orbach is co-originator of Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty (as well as, incidentally, having been Princess Diana's therapist). And the broadsheets were perhaps willing this to be a book of great resonance - its starting points certainly make for easy copy. And its simple, stark cover already has the pretensions of an intellectual classic: A chipped, lipsticked porcelain doll represents the imperfect body; its bald head is hung in shame and its body pushed into the corner by an overwhelming sea of blue (suggesting, I imagine, that the environment surrounding the body shapes and defines it more than the material body itself does). This is a book that doesn't need marketing schnick-schnack on the cover, it'll sell by itself.

It is well-known that contemporary Western societies fetishize thin bodies and that the commentary on anorexia often simplifies the illness to a preoccupation with food. Or in Orbach's words: "Thinness has become an aspirational issue" and "is - falsely, I believe - promoted as a health issue in which the psychological underpinnings of appetite and thinness are bypassed".
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating 28 Mar 2009
An absolutely fascinating take on how we view and what we do to our bodies today, with some really interesting facts and research. I think men might be put off reading Susie Orbach as she is most famous for Fat is a Feminist Issue, but this book is not aimed at just women as these issues (not just weight) effect us all
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Quite unnerving at times but so well written and a few 'ah ah' moments - a gripping read that I found very helpful personally as well as very interesting generally .
Published 6 months ago by Margaret Sills
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Product arrived on time (even before the deadline) and in excellent conditions, as stated in the sale advert.
Many thanks!
Published 22 months ago by Victoria Petitjean
5.0 out of 5 stars Bodies (Big Ideas)
This is a very well written book and an excellent introduction to body studies. Although written from a feminist perspective this is very accessible for anybody who has an... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Jonah
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Orbach has managed to sum up the issues regarding societies influences, body image and us in a thoroughly fascinating and readable way.
Published on 17 Feb 2012 by Ms. P. Stevens-Hoare
4.0 out of 5 stars So true!!
Orbach once again delivers a well written and to the point tale of the state this world has gotten itself into!
Very easy to read. Read more
Published on 1 April 2011 by Ms. Jp Woods
5.0 out of 5 stars minor limitations,huge positive impact
although I recognize minor limitations: at some points she repeats herself, the book had a huge impact on me. Read more
Published on 6 May 2010 by danae
3.0 out of 5 stars Unanswered Questions
In Bodies, Susie Orbach theorizes notion the body as the home in which the self must live. She asserts that there are authentic bodies and false bodies, the false bodies being the... Read more
Published on 4 Dec 2009 by Erika R. Szostak
2.0 out of 5 stars Some...Bodies... Else
Thank you for all the detailed reviews...I was thinking of buying this only to be sure that she (author) really didn't know what she was talking about... Read more
Published on 8 Aug 2009 by Showeda
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring and dissapointing
I really expected alot from this book because i read a review on the BACP magazine.

There was nothing new in this book. Read more
Published on 17 July 2009 by Ayemadre
3.0 out of 5 stars similar
Similar to Orbach's other work but benefits from being up to date and still makes a great contribution.enjoyed reading new material.
Published on 7 July 2009 by Susan Murray
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