Bodily becomings: Personal reflections on the constitution of an ‘anorexic self’


  • Abigail Higgisson An aspiring social worker at the Australian National University and the Australian Catholic University.


categories of self, post-structuralism, cultural discourses, biomedical discourses, anorexia nervosa, auto-ethnography,


While there is a considerable body of literature devoted to post-structural theoretical analyses of cultural discourses, and an extensive array of personal memoirs cataloguing individual lived experiences, there is a paucity of work that combine the two approaches. Responding to this dearth in the literature, I adopted an auto-ethnographic approach and deployed a post-structural framework in an exploration of specific aspects of my experiences as someone who has struggled with anorexia nervosa for 15 years. In doing so, I elucidate some of the processes by which cultural discourses engage in a reciprocal interchange with the phenomenology of lived experience to constitute particular conceptions and configurations of self. In particular, I focus on the ways in which biomedical discourses, along with those of Cartesian dualism, intersected with my own lived experiences as a child to create the conditions of possibility for the emergence of an ‘anorexic self’. By highlighting the processes of such ‘bodily becomings’, I aim to render visible the operations of modern constitutive power. I contend that an awareness of this power is vital for, and even ethically incumbent upon, social workers who are inextricably engaged in the co-creation of particular types of ‘selves’ in their daily practice. Without such an awareness social workers risk becoming unwitting participants in the formation and solidification of the very same problematic categories of self they seek to assist; perpetuating suffering and inadvertently doing incalculable harm in their earnest attempts to ‘do good’.


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How to Cite

Higgisson, A. (2022). Bodily becomings: Personal reflections on the constitution of an ‘anorexic self’. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 19(2), 68–76. Retrieved from