This thesis argues that although the anorexic patient is subjugated in the medical encounter, subjects find ways to resist and disrupt this subversion. The analysis is largely based on life history interviews with teenage girls with a medical diagnosis of anorexia. Other data sources include interview field-notes, my research journal and selected popular magazines. The data was analysed using a discourse analytic methodology to explore how girls constituted hospitalisation, anorexia, doctors and patients, among other issues. The analysis draws on insights from poststructuralist theory. In the earlier chapters, an analysis of the complex medical, psychological and feminist theories of anorexia nervosa; and a description of the hospitals where girls are treated is developed to situate the study in its socio-historical context. The analysis consists of three main arguments. The first is that clinical notions of food, eating and embodiment are in direct contrast to social discourses on these topics. Girls draw on this discrepancy in their resistance to hospital practices. The second argument is that girls are aware they are positioned as irrational because of their malnourished state and are also aware that if they blatantly resist treatment they will be subjected to further surveillance. Girls take up medical discourses in different ways and to different effects in constituting themselves as agenetic subjects. The third argument focuses on the shifting construction of the anorexia subject in the clinic. Although discourses of anorexia and psychiatry have a powerful impact on the girls; girls resist these positionings, finding other ways to constitute themselves. The contention of this thesis is that clinical constructions of anorexia work to form the subject and provide the possibilities for the creation of other subjectivities. On the basis of this research, some suggestions for how inpatient treatment regimes may work differently are provided.
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