Discursive constructions of eating disorders: A story completion task
AbstractUsing a post-structualist, discourse analytic framework this study investigates constructions of ‘anorexia’ and ‘bulimia’ made by young people. A story completion methodology was employed to allow young people to express their understandings of eating disorders. This involved participants completing two stories, about a fictional female character, Ashley, described as engaging in either anorexic-type or bulimic-type eating behaviour. Analysis of the resulting stories demonstrated several ways in which both ‘anorexia’ and ‘bulimia’were constructed as problematic, as pathologized and as requiring treatment. These constructions were framed within conflicting paternalistic and neo-liberal narratives, whereby Ashley was constituted as both a passive and active patient in her treatment. The implications of these narratives are briefly discussed in terms of their reproduction of normative constructions of young women’s eating patterns and in terms of representations of accountability for young women’s health.