“Lay” theories of anorexia nervosa : a discourse analytic study

Benveniste, Jodie R. , Le Couter, Amanda J., & Hepworth, Julie (1999) “Lay” theories of anorexia nervosa : a discourse analytic study. Journal of Health Psychology, 4(1), pp. 59-69.

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Previous studies on lay theories of anorexia nervosa have examined the ‘accuracy’ of lay knowledge, and the identification of factors by family and friends that would encourage early interventions (Huon, Brown, & Morris, 1988, 7, 239–252; Murray, Touyz, & Beumont, 1990, 9, 87–93). In contrast to these approaches, we examine lay theories of anorexia nervosa using a critical psychology perspective. We argue that the use of a discourse analysis methodology enables the examination of the construction of lay theories through dominant concepts and ideas. Ten semi-structured interviews with five women and five men aged between 15 and 25 years were carried out. Participants were asked questions about three main aspects of anorexia nervosa: aetiology, treatment and relationship to gender. Each interview was analysed in terms of the structure, function and variability of discourse. Three discourses: sociocultural, individual and femininity, are discussed in relation to the interview questions. We conclude that, in this study, lay theories of anorexia nervosa were structured through key discourses that maintained a separation between sociocultural aspects of anorexia nervosa and individual psychology. This separation exists in dominant psychomedical conceptualizations of anorexia nervosa, reinforcing the concept that it is a form of psychopathology.

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15 citations in Scopus
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ID Code: 60222
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: anorexia nervosa, critical psychology, discourse analysis, lay theories
DOI: 10.1177/135910539900400110
ISSN: 1461-7277
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000)
Deposited On: 26 May 2013 22:19
Last Modified: 26 May 2013 22:19

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