I was extremely lucky to have found a wonderful doctor who understood me and who I couldn’t outsmart

A rather sweet news story emerged the other week, in which it was claimed that studying feminist theory could help anorexics with their recovery by teaching them how “cultural constructions of femininity” can lead to “body distress”. Now, I am of the opinion that feminism is the answer to pretty much everything, so the idea of bell hooks and Kate Millett swooping in to save the day where all those medical professionals failed certainly has its appeal. So, like I say, sweet – but also a teensy bit annoying. I would never dissuade anyone from reading feminist theory, but the suggestion that a mental illness can be treated by argument feels a mere skip from saying its causation is similarly straightforward. Gender influences, like cultural influences (fashion models, women’s magazines, all the usual suspects), play a part in anorexia’s external manifestation, but the causes are as deep and knotty as a tree root. Mental illness, by its very nature, defies logic.

Related: The evidence is mounting – a man’s place is in the home | Hadley Freeman


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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".