Therapeutic itineraries of individuals with symptoms of anorexia and bulimia

Maria Bernadete de Carvalho Alexandre Costa Val Maria Mônica Freitas Ribeiro Lúcia Grossi dos Santos About the authors

Abstract

The scope of this study is to identify and contextualize aspects of the therapeutic itineraries of patients treated at a university medical clinic specialized in nervous anorexia and bulimia. For this purpose, an attempt was made to reconstitute the succession of events triggered in 20 respondents and their families with the classification of anorexia and bulimia as “health problems.” The narratives were analyzed in order to link the individual experiences and the social context of their occurrence (organization of health services, characteristics of treatment and medical knowledge and characteristics of contemporary subjectivity), in light of the theoretical studies of Public Health and Psychoanalysis. Data analysis revealed that these itineraries arise from connections and disconnections between two distinct approaches: one that organizes the management of patients and the other governing the conduct of health institutions and families. If the latter presuppose a quest for health, this is not what primarily concerns the individuals in question. Their refusal to moderate their own eating disorders is notable on their itineraries, and indicates the functionality of those practices. Such practices play a part in the reconstruction of their self-images.

Mental health; Anorexia; Bulimia; Healthcare-seeking behavior; Power (psychology)

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