Popular interest in body image issues has grown dramatically in recent years, due to an emphasis on individual responsibility and self-determination in contemporary society as well as the seemingly limitless capacities of modern medicine; however body image as a separate field of academic inquiry is still relatively young. The contributors of Body Image and Identity in Contemporary Societies explore the complex social, political and aesthetic interconnections between body image and identity. It is an in-depth study that allows for new perspectives in the analysis of contemporary visual art and literature but also reflects on how these social constructs inform clinical treatment.
Sukhanova and Thomashoff bring together contributions from psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, psychiatrists and scholars in the fields of the social sciences and the humanities to explore representations of the body in literature and the arts across different times and cultures. The chapters analyse the social construction of the 'ideal' body in terms of beauty, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class and disability, from a broadly psychoanalytic perspective, and traces the mechanisms which define the role of the physical appearance in the formation of identity and the assumption of social roles.
Body Image and Identity in Contemporary Societies' unique interdisciplinary outlook aims to bridge the current gap between clinical observations and research in semiotic theory. It will be of interest to psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, art therapists, art theorists, academics in the humanities and social sciences, and those interested in an interdisciplinary approach to the issues of body image and identity.
Ekaterina Sukhanova is University Director of Academic Program Review at the City University of New York USA. She serves as Scientific Secretary of the Section for Art and Psychiatry and the Section of Art and Psychiatry of the World Psychiatric Association. She is also engaged in interdisciplinary research on cultural constructs of mental health and illness and curates exhibits of art brut as a vehicle for fighting stigma.
Hans-Otto Thomashoff was born in Germany and lives in Vienna. He is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, art historian and author of fiction and non-fiction books. He has been curator of several art exhibitions highlighting the connection between the psyche and art as well as president of the section of Art and Psychiatry of the World Psychiatric Association and advisory committee member of the Sigmund Freud Foundation, Vienna.