Most helpful positive review
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Found this a very relevant book
on 1 July 2009
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?' She argues that just as Marx stated we 'enter a world not of our own making', so women in today's society 'confront a visual world not of their own making.' The idea that bodies are individual creations and not biology are causing complex difficulties from relationships to sexuality and identity issues. It is hard for us to just 'be'.
In the framework of various social, psychoanalytical and feminist theories and rationalisations, she concludes that we need to rethink the body, to stop its commercial exploitation and learn to experience it with all its real and diverse appetites and pleasures.