Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chilling Out with My Abnormal Psych Professor

So I'm currently taking an abnormal psychology class with Amy Nereen at Haverford College, and upon finding out that her clinical specialty lies in working with eating-disordered individuals, I immediately set up an appointment with her to chat about this thesis. I asked her one main question - how do eating disordered individuals narrate themselves (if there is any consistency in these narrations, that is)? She replied that using the third person collective "we" or "us" (as Hornbacher does periodically throughout her memoir) implies that an eating disorder is ingrained. "You" do not understand "us." "I" am part of a "we" that validates these behaviors, and because "you" are outside, you cannot see the value of this "we."

And the "you?" According to Professor Nereen, using "you" to narrate the story of an eating disorder implies an initial reaching out as well as the fact that the eating-disordered person believes that this illness can befall anyone. "You" means that no one is immune to contracting an eating disorder (perhaps because of social predispositions), and "you" also means that "I'm" trying to get "you" to understand my point of view. I'm allowing "you" to empathize. I'm inviting "you" into my experience.

Finally, the "I." Dr. Nereen states that the "I" is symbolic of the sufferer taking accountability for her actions and recovery. She is no longer blaming other people, society, etc. for keeping her ill. She realizes that recovery is a decision, and that her illness may be stopped by her decision to get well - no matter what other people, society, etc. say.

So what does all this mean for Hornbacher? I'm wondering if I can look at Hornbacher's memoir through the lenses of recovery - nonlinear, messy recovery. What does she own? What does she put off onto society? And where does she allow her audience to empathize?


  1. Don't talk like that about professor it is not a good thing...But I am sure you enjoyed too much with him..
    Thesis Writing

  2. I think you misunderstood the title. The CLASS is abnormal psychology - my professor is NOT abnormal! Haha