Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Carol Stalker

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This thesis is a feminist deconstruction of anorexia nervosa (AN) in women. It begins with questioning the truth claims about AN established by the psychological and psychiatric fields. After an overview of the medical model literature and the feminist literature on eating problems, a critical analysis is used to deconstruct the sociocultural elements of AN. The purpose of this analysis is to critically examine the assumptions which have shaped how clinicians approach the phenomenon of AN in their practice with clients. What has been accepted as underlying psychopathology is deconstructed to reveal normative culturally constructed factors. A paradigm shift towards viewing AN as a cultural response rather than an individual pathology is suggested. A corresponding shift in treatment approaches, including contracting, is advocated with an emphasis on the principles of feminist therapy. Postmodern therapies such as narrative therapy are discussed along with other multimodal approaches to therapeutic collaboration. Political imperatives to address causes of social oppression as a vital adjunct to individual counselling are urged, particularly for those clinicians with a social work background. Recommendations for further studies of recovery from AN from the client’s perspective conclude this analysis.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season