Unrecoverable? Prescriptions and possibilities for eating disorder recovery

LaMarre, A., Rice, C. & Bear, M. (2015). Unrecoverable? Prescriptions and possibilities for eating disorder recovery. In N. Khanlou & F. Pilkington (Eds.), Women's mental health: Advances in mental health and addiction (pp. 145-160). New York, NY: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-17326-9_10



Introduction: In Western psychology, post-structural feminist scholarship on eating disorders (EDs) has brought to light three key differences between critical and conventional frameworks: differences in understandings of causation and course, in conceptualizations of the normal/pathological divide, and in attendance to lived experiences as a source of scholarly and clinical knowledge and insight.

Main Body: Situating these tensions in our current cultural milieu, which imbues bodies with moral meanings, a possible next step in illuminating ED etiology and recovery is attending to embodied experiences. In this chapter, we examine tensions between biomedical discourses around health/well-being circulating in mainstream culture and prescriptions for ED recovery found in treatment settings. Stepping outside of a biomedical frame, we outline key contributions from post-structuralist feminist perspectives and offer promising directions for future research in this area: rethinking EDs in the context of biopedagogies, or the moralizing instructions for bodies and health that circulate in biomedicalized and neoliberalized contexts such as our own.

Discussion: Noting the ways in which biopedagogies for health differ markedly from instructions for ED recovery, we suggest that there exists, within biomedical treatment regimes, a biopedagogy of recovery that may contribute to the difficulty of “achieving recovery”.

Implications: For those whose bodily experiences do not fit the “expected” course of having/recovering from an ED, attempting to follow a recovery biopedagogy may bring individuals face to face with some of the problematics of (Westernized) societal expectations for “healthy bodies”.


Eating disorders Anorexia nervosa Bulimia nervosa Eating disorders not otherwise specified Biopedagogies Post-structuralism Feminism Treatment Recovery Bodies Critical theory Diagnostic and Statistical Manual