A Narrative Approach to Anorexia
A critical cultural analysis of mainstream
psychiatric treatments for anorexia is a first
step toward formulating alternative thera-
pies that render explicit the cultural speci-
ficity of illness and health. One such al-
ternative is the ‘‘narrative’’ approach that
White and Epston describe in their Nar-
rative Means to Therapeutic Ends (1990).
Rather than providing a comprehensive
summary of my critical analyses in the pre-
ceding chapters, I prefer to focus my at-
tention here on this alternative therapeutic
approach, because it provides specific sug-
gestions for avoiding or wrestling e√ectively
with some of the problems and dilemmas I
have addressed in this book.
Michael White of Adelaide, Australia,
and David Epston of Auckland, New Zea-
land, together developed a ‘‘narrative meta-
phor’’ for therapeutic practice in the early
1980s. Narrative therapy, a spin-o√ from
‘‘family systems’’ thinking that ultimately
broke away from a systems paradigm,∞ grew
out of a critique of psychiatric ‘‘objectivity’’
and is inspired by the idea that therapeutic
practices are never culturally neutral, be-
cause they help reconfigure persons’ lives
and relationships in particular social con-
texts. Narrative therapy is not a mainstream
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