In this compelling new book, Gillian Bendelow provides an accessible account of the complex interplay between mind, body and society. Contemporary critiques of biomedicine and the process of medicalisation have long emphasised the limitations of traditional western scientific medicine in the separation of mind and body. The subsequent turn to more holistic models of health and illness is w beginning to permeate medical education and healthcare practice. For Bendelow, a key aspect of this paradigm shift is the development of more sophisticated concepts of stress, which address the intertwining of emotion and embodiment, and emphasise social and material factors alongside biopsychological components. These theoretical and conceptual issues are explored first through an emphasis on contemporary health practices, and then through developments in illness and medicine. Examining the ways in which 'healthism', rather than 'medicalisation', pervades most areas of everyday life, attention is drawn to the bodily practices we pursue in the name of health. These include concerns with sexual health, health promotion, the use of complementary or alternative medicine, and the tion of emotional health. The book then considers the implications of being diagsed as ill, and charts the limits of the divisions between 'mental' and 'physical' illness, examining a range of conditions, including chronic pain, eating disorders and other illnesses of the contemporary world. Health, Emotion and the Body combines clarity of expression with careful scholarship and originality, making it appeal to students and scholars with a wide range of interests, including the sociology of health and illness, the body, and mental illness, as well as health psychology.
Gillian Bendelow is Reader in Sociology at the University of Sussex.