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An artifact of hope : the journey of reflexive, participatory research with young women who have faced… Ross, Linda Lee 1996

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An Artifact of Ho ft: (Tht Journey of' %efle7{ive, Participatory Research with young "Women "Who Have faced feelings of depression and disordered "Eating by Linda Lee Ross B.S.W. McGi l l University, 1992 A Practice/Thesis Submit ted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the d e g r e e of MASTER OF SOCIAL WORK in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Schoo l of Socia l Work W e a c c e p t this pract ice/ thesis as conforming to the required s tandard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA December , 1996 ©Linda Lee Ross, 1996 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date - i - C X r ^ , DE-6 (2/88) This practice/thesis documents a search for hope and meaning in the experiences of young women who have faced feelings of depression and disordered eating. This portrait of a process guided by the principles of qualitative, holistic, feminist, reflexive and participatory inquiry reflects the journey of reflexive feminist praxis. My hope is to evoke a sense of the importance and value of feminist theory, the relevance of its application in understanding women's experiences of distress and the vitality of new thought and inquiry arising out of feminist research. This is what I mean by reflexive feminist praxis, where theory inspires action which in turn nourishes new understanding. It is also my wish to demonstrate that this process must include reflection upon the self, the narrator of the story. This is an invitation to reflect upon the meaning of what I have to say in your own story. This journey into meaning-making is therefore dialogic. Feelings of depression and disordered eating can claim the health, joy, hope, energy and passions of us all. This tale is now in your hands, awaiting the 'view from over there'. a Table of Contents abstract H Table of Contents Hi Acknowledgments iv (Dedication vi Vision introduction 1 C9iAfPTE"R09$E : "Purpose: "Why this Re-Search? Is This Research? 5 CHASTERTWO: Origins: My Story 11 C(r(A(PTER.TrtREE: Literature 26 The Construction of Eating "Disorders "What's "Missing: A ContextualReconstruction of "Young "Women's "Bodily "Distress CHAPTER. FOUR: Research (Principles 49 Qualitative Holistic feminist Refle?Q.ve (Participatory C(HA(PTER FOUR: Research (Process 56 (Participants Individual Interviews Initial Qroup Meetings Re-evaluation Counselling: "E?q)loring "Peer Support Analysis "Emergent "Themes (Participants "Experience of the. "Research CtiAfPTE'RSLX: Anti-Conclusion 92 "Bibliography 97 Appendix Research Approval Form 106 Appendix ®; Call for (Participants 107 Appendix C: (Participant Consent Form 108 Appendix Interview Quide 109 Appendix E: Resources 111 Ui This d o c u m e n t is a testimony to the ideas, exper iences a n d discover ies of m a n y p e o p l e . The passions, burdens a n d joys expressed in this work simultaneously speak of those who h a v e sustained my energy a n d life over the last year. The blessings I h a v e b e e n of fered in hav ing things not g o as p l a n n e d are the gifts of humility a n d vulnerabil ity I h a v e d i scove red in n e e d i n g so m u c h from so many p e o p l e . I thank my sister Susan for mak ing m e feel spec ia l ; for mak ing m e feel smart a n d a lways lovab le . I thank my sister Shari for a lways bel iev ing in me , my mind a n d my heart a n d for loving m e so m u c h . I thank my 'third sister' R h o n d a for her generosity a n d belief in my goodness. I thank Bob for be ing a wonderfu l brother, for his great humour. I thank D e e for so m a n y hugs, walks, talks a n d laughs a n d for absolute hours of be ing Piccolo 's hero, a n d for naming this work. I thank Julie a n d Pete for babysitt ing my b a b y in my hour of n e e d . Sara I thank for knowing I wou ld get through this, that wha t I h a d to say was so important that I c o l d not g ive up, I wou ld not b e here without her love. I thank Doug for cal l ing every w e e k to m a k e sure I was al ive, ever ready to offer a kind thought a n d a cyberne t i c hug . I a m thankful to Co l l een a n d Judy for be ing gals I look up to, for their pa t i ence , car ing ( feeding me I) a n d the security of knowing they were a lways there. I thank the w o m e n who h a v e b e e n part ic ipat ing in the research project, I h a v e felt so lucky to have h a d the opportunity to work with such wise w o m e n , a n d I a m " p s y c h e d " abou t wha t w e are do ing . I thank Begum for the many gifts shared, her talents, car ing a n d interest in my work a n d personhood , I a m more blessed to h a v e known such a beauti ful w o m a n . I thank D e b for be ing a real support through this process, for understanding my out lawness a n d be ing a role m o d e l in exempl i fy ing how teach ing is learning a n d learning is t each ing . I thank Paule for faci l i tat ing my reconnec t ion to the impor tance of groups, for her respect of my a m b i v a l e n c e a n d for sharing her d e e p inte l l igence. I thank Kathryn for the t ime a n d thoughtfulness she invested in read ing this work, especia l ly a t such short not ice ! I thank Kathy for her va l idat ion of my feelings of kaos a n d exci tement, for her great generosity of spirit a n d be ing, for her sisterhood. I thank Karen for her hugs, for sharing her vast know ledge , expe r ience a n d great humour, a n d so m a n y wink-winks. I thank Cyn th ia for her sweetness a n d mischievous gorgeousness. I thank Mar lene for showing so m u c h c o u r a g e a n d strength, for honor ing herself. I thank Pat for her p a t i e n c e a n d immeasurab le commi tmen t to her students, I h a v e learned a great d e a l abou t respect from her. I thank my loved ones at Project Parent In-Home for their d e e p car ing a n d support of my n e e d to a lways quest ion a n d grow. I thank Di for be ing my first real ' g o o d girlfriend' in Vancouve r , I a m so impressed by her talents, b e a u t y a n d energy. I thank C a r o n for be ing a n inspiration a n d one of my greatest treasures. Sandra, I a m grateful for her honest friendship a n d for be ing o n e of the loveliest creatures I have ever known. I thank Mary for her love of m e at a t ime w h e n I felt so all a lone, for be ing my friend no matter wha t coulour I pa in ted my nails. iv Jody, mon ame-soeur, ton authenticite m'encourage toujours dans mon cheminement comme femme et feministe, Diane, ton refus des responses simples m'a toujours servie d'inspiration et de "mentorship". I thank Samantha, Corey and Tristan for being my guiding lights. I thank my aunt Lois for always knowing that I was meant to be a teacher. I thank my parents for parenting me, for being proud, and available, for more than mere words can ever say. I thank Stanley Park and The Pacific Ocean for comforting me with the wisdom of the wild . v <JO%ALL rbCE 'Dogs 'WHO OUAVE SWIPED THE LI<VTS 07 gi%cs 'WoUwi vi Vision Introduction The real voyage, of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes. Marcel (Proust Whether a woman is at work, walking down the street, in a relationship, raising children or on a diet, her experiences occur within a social context. At every stage of a woman's life, her experiences both arise out of and contribute to the environment she inhabits. The influences of culture are felt acutely during adolescence (Hancock, 1989). Ado lescence is a dangerous time for young women. Contemporary North American society has been described as a girl-poisoning culture (Pipher, 1994). Research in the area of depression has indicated that women are two times more likely to experience depression than men (Wetzel, 1994). Until puberty, more boys than girls report feeling depressed and dissatisfaction with body image appears to be an important indicator of whether girls will become depressed (Kaschak,1992). A historical perspective on the development of the phenomenon of young women experiencing feelings of depression, disordered eating, poor body image, anxiety and somatic symptoms such as headaches and difficulty in breathing reveals that increases in their occurrence correlate with periods in history when women's access to education accrued (Perlick and Silverstein,1994). Although young women during these periods in history have appeared to have ach ieved gains in "public life", female bodily distress expresses contradictory imperatives regarding changing gender roles (Bordo,1993). This research presents a feminist ta le of excava t i on a n d restoration, char t ing a n a r cheo log i ca l search to unearth the mean ing of young women 's bodi ly distress at a t ime w h e n a n ever increasing number of young w o m e n in North A m e r c a n culture live their lives under the s iege of a form of self-colonizing b o d y hat red expressed in b o d y i m a g e dissatisfaction, diet ing, exercising a n d increasingly, cosmet i c surgery. The w e i g h t - p r e o c c u p i e d state of most w o m e n is v i e w e d as a usual, p red ic tab le part of the d i l emma of being,. , female . This project disrupts discourse g e n e r a t e d by most discussions of the p rob lem of "eat ing disorders", that of a d ia lec t i c s tance where some women 's discomfort with f ood , b o d y image , a n d feelings of depression are re lega ted to a c a t e g o r y of pa tho logy while the majority of women 's exper iences of b o d y a n d s h a p e dissatisfaction a n d depression are seen as a n unfortunate byproduc t of a media-dr iven culture. My intent in refusing to sift out the most seemingly t roubled w o m e n from a troubling context is to suggest that w e n e e d to cha l l enge our definition of the p rob lem so that w e c a n c rea te a more inclusive solution. It is t ime to stop relying on the a m b u l a n c e in the val ley a n d build a f e n c e at the cliff on top of the hill. Over a per iod of six months, a group of six w o m e n including myself, the researcher, met to explore the research quest ion that has g u i d e d this qual i tat ive inquiry, wh ich is: What Needs to be Different so that Fewer Young Women Face Feelings of Depression and Disordered Eating ? In a support ive envi ronment that recogn ized our subject ive exper iences of ourselves as authoritat ive, d ia logues a n d shared stories e m e r g e d that f ocused our attent ion towards a cultural context in wh ich young girls 2 dec ide that they do not want to grow into women. The group c a m e to define feelings of depression and disordered eating, as, in the words of one participant " e v i d e n c e o f w o m e n ' s g r e a t w i l l t o d o s o m e t h i n g w i t h t h e i r l i v e s " . The purpose of participatory action research is to utilize and act upon the expertise and knowledge of participants, in this case young women who have faced depression and disordered eating. While research has been conducted in the area of factors which may predispose women to a higher incidence of depression, such as relational issues and experiences of inequality in their social roles, little emphasis has been p laced on what women themselves feel needs to be different in their lives. This project is relevant to current trends in health care reform, such as 'New Directions for A Healthy British Columbia', where the focus is on actively involving communities in the design and provision of health care services. Whereas most research in the area of "eating disorders" is carefully constructed so as to replicate distinct categories of disorder and pathological phenomenon, i.e. anorexia, bulimia, and compulsive eating, the design of this study represents a departure from this app roach . The purpose of a thesis is to document original research, to render in text a student's competency in gathering data, carrying out an analysis of the information and pointing the way for further inquiry. The intent of a practice/thesis is to give equal value to the importance of research and practice. Taken one step further, it suggests the inseparability of theory from its application. In a practice-oriented discipline such as social work, 3 it appears particularly important that graduate level research foster the ability to unite theory and practice. The creation of "usable knowledge" (Lindblom and Cohen, 1979) is central to praxis, whereby theory is utilized in order to guide practice and generate new thought. Whether or not the clinical practice and research that make up this practice/thesis generate "usable knowledge" (ibid.) is what I understand as my "measure" for the significance of this work. Cti%!PTtE%09$E presents the Purpose of this project: Why This Research ? Is This Research ? C9^WTL^(TW0 examines the Origins: My Story of feelings of depression and disordered eating. C^HJ^PTE^TIH^E'E reviews the Literature involved in The Construction of Eating Disorders which is contrasted with a more contextual understanding of the issues by exploring What's Missing: A Contextual Reconstruction of Young Women's Bodily Distress. CtifAPFE^TOU'Ii presents the Research Principles which guided the inquiry as being Qualitative, Holistic, Feminist, Reflexive and Participatory. CMPTE^FITSE outlines the Research Process that unfolded offering a description of Participants, Individual interviews, Initial Group Meetings and Emergent Themes out of the research question: What Needs to be Different so that Fewer Young Women Face Feelings of Depression and Disordered Eating. This chapter also explores my reflections upon the research process and describes how Re-evaluation Counselling: Exploring Peer Support took shape. This chapter ends with Participants' Experience of the research. CrtSWTE^SIXasserts an Anti-Conclusion to this practice/thesis. 4 Chapter One "Purpose: "Why "This Re-Search ? Is This (Re-search ? "When writing is thought of as a reporting process there is no place for thinking of research itself as a poetic textual (writing) practice. Van (Manen, The beginings of this inquiry lie in the self-reflective writings of a fifteen year old girl. My journals at the time served to document a spiritual quest for hope and meaning, for a theological ontology of girlhood, the meaning of girlbeing/woman becoming. These chronicles of a passage through almost three years of feelings of depression and bodily distress expressed in disordered eating reflected a deeply felt desire to locate hope amidst a world of despair and disorder. Writing is a process which can serve to locate meaning in the meaningless and hope in the hopeless and through which "we create artifacts with which we can interact" (Vaught-Alexander, 1994, p. 150). Self-reflective writing provides a space for contextually based, located knowledge (ibid), and writing can be seen as a method of inquiry (Richardson, 1994). As contemporary theories of disordered eating offer little hope for women of discovering or recovering their health and wellbeing (Walstrom, 1996), writing this thesis serves as a testimony of strength, an artifact of hope. Hope has been identified as essential to health and healing (Brown, 1992), where healing becomes: "the integration or reintegration of the self in the presence of suffering" (170). This research was born out of a desire to give voice to the contradictory and multifarious meanings of young womens' search for subjectivity or sense of self, expressed in feelings of depression and disordered eating. 5 This search for hope amidst feelings of depression and disordered eating led to the deconstruction of the ways in which theoretical narratives of "Eating Disorders" reconstruct women's experiences of oppression, expressed in bodily distress as individual psychopathology, separating the experience from the context that constructs both the dilemma and possible solutions. Eva Szekely has argued for considering the body in a way: "that does not sever the intimate connection between person and world, that can address in its specificity the interest of its ruling class" (1988, p. 195). From this perspective, women's bodies could be read as "text", through which ontological viewpoints or stories of meaning could emerge about the context of their experiences. Deconstructing women's experiences of bodily distress to reveal meaning requires a simultaneous deconstruction of ontology, the ways we make meaning, methodolgy, the ways of carrying out research and epistemology, the ways we know and theorize about the production of knowledge. Cartesian dualism, the splitting of mind from body, reason from emotion, has not only shaped our understanding of the body but also the way we theorize knowledge about our experiences of health, wellbeing, pain and illness. This dualistic view of nature and matter, body and spirit is at the heart of genderism and the categorization of male and female as essentially different, where woman represents the body and its inherent emotionality and weakness and man represents intelligence and the desire to master the body. The modernist biomedical model operationlizes this reductionist understanding of experience by separating the "psyche" from the body, the body from the whole person and the person from their environment. Feelings of depression and disordered eating could be seen as a metaphor for the struggle to acquire agency and power through control over emotions and the body (Malson, 1995, Beck, 1996). Postpositivist, postmodern, feminist and holistic research have all begun to challenge the supremacy of rationality or "objectivity talk", the view that research can be value-free by incorporating subjective or experiential knowledge. Theories regarding the importance of the "emotional intelligence" (Goleman, 1995), and "emotional literacy" (Orbach, 1994), challenge reductionist analysis by taking the view that developing fluency in our feelings, our ability to speak, hear, understand, express and employ our emotions is key to fostering healthy people, communities and nations. From this perspective, self-reflective research and the recognition of our experiences of our selves, our subjectivity as revelatory and authoritative becomes an invitation to intersubjectivity, a gesture towards dialogue, a p lace to start. The process of crafting this research then directed me to deconstruct notions of social work theory and practice that support dualistic interpretations of meaning-making and knowledge production, of soft or hard distinct areas of expertise such as research, clinical practice and community development. This work hopes to stretch the edges of our definition of what is research. Rather than one specialized area of practice, the utilization of research can lead to more "useful" practice, whether it be clinical social work and/or community development. As an illustration, social science research regarding the determinants of health 7 and mental health policy have operated separately a s " two cultures" (Hetherington, 1988), where one had little influence over the other. What is more, research that documents the impact upon health of environmental stress such as poverty, violence or unemployment have failed to incorporate an understanding of the ways in which our bodily experiences whether they be physical, psychologiocal and/or spiritual play a role in determining whether we develop ill health as a result of life difficulties. In contrast, recent research into the power of the "mind/body" relationship (Pincus and Callahn,1995) is demonstrating the usefulness of considering the need for interconnected planning in areas such as health, education, economics, environment and law. Principles that lead to the generation of useful information in clinical pract ice and community development, can therefore be appl ied to research and vise versa. This thesis identifies a reflexive stance and accountabil ity for creating "usable knowledge" (Lindblom and Cohen, 1979) as vital steps towards the creation and utilization of knowledge. Whether providing support in a therapeutic relationship, listening for stories in a research interview or facilitating a community group, participants must be actively involved in generating new knowledge that actually fosters the change they desire in their lives. Viewing context as all important (Wooley, 1994), understanding each other as experts on our own experience and continuos reflection upon the assumptions that guide our practice are some of points of reference that make for more useful social work. 8 The choice of sharing my own experiences of feelings of depression and disordered eating reveals my commitment to disrupting further aspects of dualism, the separation of "private" and "public" experience and space. The act of writing this thesis in the first person marks a departure in my writing and a stage in my own process of healing and search for wholeness. For over a d e c a d e I have used a computer to write. Whenever I have had something to say, it has seemed the most expedient way in which to express myself. Using a computer coincides with the development of my professional, knowledgeable public persona (I'intervenante sociale), and I am struck by the degree to which using a computer has played a role in maintaining that personage. This thesis has been written in my journal with my favorite pens and transcribed later onto computer. This way of writing seeks to honor the depth of feeling and knowledge that comes through my writing, to unite a public performance with its portrayal of hope and determination with aspects of myself that have often gone underground, and tell tales of uncertainty and despair. I have often felt that social workers, in particular women social workers, give to others what we have not ever had the opportunity to experience ourselves: letting experiences of grief, anger, disappointment, disassociation enter into dialogue with our minds. Ancient Celtic rituals celebrated death and grieved for new born infants because they knew that life was hard. I believe that life can be very difficult, but that we rarely truly celebrate its cycles and the learning incurred, because under the influences of a capitalist economic mythology, we believe that we do not have to hurt, our bodies do not even have to age. Welcoming the mysteries of pain and sorrow can 9 i n v o k e o u r w h o l e n e s s as h u m a n b e i n g s , p e r h a p s t h e m o s t t h a t w e c a n e v e r really v e n t u r e . 10 Chapter Vivo Origins: My Story Had I at an early age Seen taught autoSiographical analysis, as a way of [earning to think\andUnite critically, I might have Seen spared years of pain and silence. A. 'Brookes Something has happened to my writing. Like the adolescent joumaling that sustained my existence when my life was overtaken with the silencing forces of depression and disordered eating, my writing has once again become a locus of subversive knowing. This travel through the terrain of academia has resurrected a force that has restored my writing to a former p lace and familiar purpose: to reflect upon my own experience in search of hope and solace. Like feelings of depression and disordered eating themselves, its recourse to a c o d e d form of expression seeks safety from the judgment of those who do not want to understand their emotions, intuitions, their animal and spirit nature. In the space my writing creates, my voice seeks shelter most of all from a culture that fails to recognize privilege, as loss (Spivak, 1990), the inability to see the misuse of power as a tragic, vanished opportunity for being more fully human. Writing this thesis has been one of the most difficult and painful experiences of my life. Writing about one's feelings of depression and disordered eating without a self-aggrandizing or self-pitying flavour is no small task. As a student, in particular as a feminist student, I have experienced returning to school as the experience of resuming a subordinate role. I have felt that I can no longer fit in academia , or be productive because I am too healthy; that I have too much self-value to l l engage in relationships that do not acknowledge power, and the way our experiences and differential access to power weave into social relations. (Also, I can no longer contemplate experience in a linear fashion or make sense solely through my intellect and'I wonder how this thesis "makes sense"... Will it register clearly in your mind, body, heart ? It has most certainly taken up a great deal of space in my emotional, physical and spiritual life). As someone who values connections and relatedness as requirements for learning, studying in an atmosphere of competitiveness, whether for grades in hopes of future employment or further academic pursuit, has at times left me feeling very sad. Although critical discourses have begun to emerge within the academic environment where considerations of gender, culture, class, disability and sexual orientation are increasingly present in academic theorizing, some of my experiences in my graduate social work program have brought me to reconnect to previous experiences of depression and disordered eating, and in turn to experience disordered sleeping and feelings of panic. To understand my distress in context, my thoughts turn to a December morning in Montreal: I remember the silence over a telephone line when I first spoke to my mother who had just heard about the massacre of women students at L'lnstitue de la Polytechnique. A matrilineage of pain, of knowing the danger in being a girl, of violence and death and daughters who would never speak mother again was expressed in the acknowledging silence we shared. For months after the event, I woke up nauseous and often vomited before heading off to University. I know this because I recently came across a health journal I kept as part of a 12 sociology of health class. Entrances to conferences or any event associated with feminism for the next year had gun detectors and on a number of occasions I had to be accompanied home by friends because I was "out" as a feminist and was followed by threatening individuals. The media played a key role in the creation of my great distress in reaction to the murder of the women students; while the event was discussed continuously on radio, television and in print as evidence that women are not safe anywhere at any time, it was also dismissed as the act of a madman. Reports made constant reference to the fact that his father had been from "another" culture, that he had been severely abused as a child and women students interviewed at La Polytechnique, offered reassurances that there was no discrimination or gender bias in engineering. The contradictions laid bare by a culture attempting to cope with its grief by individualizing male violence against women serves to illustrate the distress, discomfort, dissonance and "crazy-making" experiences women face in the world. A principal organizing factor of girls and women's lives, that is to say self-monitoring fear for our safety, goes unrecognized. We have developed narratives to label post-traumatic stress in relation to experiences of violence, to assist survivors, but are women ever really post-trauma in this culture ? The massacre illuminates an era when academia is facing its own shadow. Carl Jung said that what is disowned becomes shadow, more disturbed and more disturbing. The introduction of feminist and other critical discourses that address power issues may be resulting in an 13 academic environment that feels more disturbing than ever as women, people of colour, gay and bisexual men, lesbian and bisexual women and men, and people living with what we have constructed as disabilities seek to be heard, My encounter with the shadow of power, misused and disguised as normative within academia , has impacted me so greatly that I have turned to an inner sanctum; to dialogue with a young girl who has taken on fiercer monsters and slayed greater dragons. The way this thesis has been crafted is a reflection of my own contradictions and ambivalence as a woman in this culture; I want a happy ending for my graduate experiences and yet at other times I have not wanted to share one piece of this research with anyone associated with academia ! How can I recite the profound meaning of feelings of depression and disordered eating in women's lives and portray what it means to produce this document within an environment in which I feel so unsafe without meeting the shadow of my own heart ? The purpose of moving through the darker side of this experience is to be able to fully rejoice in what exists along side; the fruits of my devotion to relations invested by the power of love, not the love of power. Written by hand, under the cover of night, this is my story of a self-reflexive journey towards the completion of a feminist practice/thesis, While I embrace the pride and joy that accompanies a sense of accomplishment after a long period of travail, my pathway to here has drawn upon the shadow side of my heart and every ounce of my strength. My resolve to pursue completion of this work comes from the knowledge that what women have been saying with their bodies requires translation or dialects that can reach a variety of audiences if 14 we are to effect change and justice. In the same instance, I am aware that women's voices challenge the fabric of social relations, and that readers of this account are being invited into a space which acknowledges pain, grief, distress as experiences we all face. It is vital to me that this work be understood. While my investment in this process leaves me vulnerable for disappointment, it also creates a space for authentic dialogue and connection. The rewards of devotion, the experience of having traversed difficult territory to return with new wisdom and p e a c e has allowed my spirit to battle on. What I have to say about women's distress feels so important that I deliver my reflection over for inquiry, critique and discussion. The parallels of my experiences of distress and disorder as a young girl in the face of an approaching culture of womanhood I knew I did not want to enter into and my distress at what graduate social work education has involved present an entry point into my own story of facing feelings of depression and disordered eating. While academ ia could be seen to simply replicate existing power relations in the larger world, the value I p lace on learning, and my desire to share this excitement led me to feelings of disappointment and distress, as I experienced and witnessed what I perceive as painfully oppressive relations. Paradoxically, had I found a safer p lace in academia , this work might not have been as self-reflexive: I might never have jouneyed into my own voice, sought survival in writing my own story. My own journey into reflexivity was further inspired by the journal writings of the women students I worked with as a Teaching Assistant in Women's 15 Studies, where their stories offered a glimpse of the richness of knowledge in women's self-reflexivity. In sharing my own encounter with distress and despair, I am purposefully "demasking" my gender. Heilbrun (1988, pi 2) documents the great difficulty women have faced in documenting their own experiences of pain, struggle, and suffering in their autobiographies because the traditional way for women to recount their lives "is to find beauty even in pain and to transform rage into spiritual acceptance". The rewards of devotion I espouse could seem to portray this very approach of embroidering equanimity into the fabric of an otherwise feminist fiction of despair. Let me be clear. Reflexivity is defiant. A journey into female knowledge is thrilling, yet carries danger lest we are tempted to forget that "we live in male contexts and are answerable to male law" (Wooley,1994, p.320). Two women authors who have profoundly shaped our understanding of the need for social justice for women and children, Gloria Steinem and Alice Miller, suddenly realized after years of drawing out the oppressive experiences of others, that they had forgotten to include their own pain in their writing. It was in reading Alice Miller that I first encountered a means to theorize my experiences as a professional caregiver, During the second year field placement of my B.S.W., I developed a close relationship with my supervisor. She called me one day at home and told me that she had just read an account of my life, that I had to read a book entitled The Drama of The gifted Child (Miller, 1982). I had read parts of the book in order to understand my clients at the eating disorder 16 cl inic where I interned, but it was only w h e n a w o m a n whose opin ion I truly v a l u e d a c k n o w l e d g e d my exper ience that I was a b l e to relate the book to my o w n life a n d beg in to recogn ize the pro found loss incurred in be ing a gi f ted chi ld, a purveyor of hope . Under the restraints of a capital ist market e c o n o m y that drives us towards indiv idual ized a c c o u n t s of pa in a n d distress, w e m a k e m e a n i n g of our exper iences through individual narratives. The belief that suffering c o u l d b e a v o i d e d if w e just worked harder, leads us to find fault with ourselves, part icularly so for w o m e n , a n d increasingly with our "dysfunctional family". My o w n process of c o m i n g to terms with my exper iences has brought m e to sea rch b e y o n d this understanding. It is not that I d iscount the role of family "dynamics" in my o w n story, rather I v iew them as o n e th read in the fabr ic of social relations. My sense is that it was my spirited a n d p recoc ious nature, my refusal to b e "only a girl" that led m e to "psycho log ica l distress". My v iew of my family is that it was their bel ief in "goodness" amidst a g reedy wor ld a n d in the outstanding inte l l igence of their daughters that contr ibuted to my own sense of "cogni t ive d issonance" b e t w e e n wha t should b e a n d what is, At the s a m e time, individual stories if v i e w e d in context, c a n b e c o m e a pro found means of understanding the forces that prope l our act ions. O n e of the most powerful means of understanding the inf luences of distress a n d disorder in my life has b e e n to t race a narrative of 'depression' b a c k to my family roots. In some ways it has felt as though depression was h a n d e d d o w n to me like a rec ipe or family heir loom, My parents g rew up during the depression era, a per iod in history 17 characterized by mass despair. Both my parents lost their own parents as young adults, with my maternal grandmother dying a few years after I was born. It is my impression that loosing one's parents is akin to loosing one's secure footing in the world and I wonder how my parents' loss has "storied" their experience of the world and eventually my own. My father's parents were of Scottish origins and from what little I know worked hard to provide for their family. I say this because my father has shared very few details about his childhood. I have always felt that he wanted to shelter his children from the hardship he endured. My mother's father went off to assist in the second world war, and she has shared the story of being asked by other children, if her father had been killed yet. My mother is of Irish Catholic descent, was raised in a middle-class family and had carved out a career for herself during an epoch when women were not supposed to value their own work outside of the home, When my mother was expecting my oldest sister, she left her job and did not return to the paid work force until some twenty five years later. I have often wondered how things might have been different for my parents as individuals and for my family as a whole if less rigid gender expectations had guided my parents' choices. I wonder what it might have been like if my mother had been encouraged to pursue her interests in the labour force and my father had stayed at home with his children, as I have always felt that my mother had far more drive and intellectual force than could be expressed as a "homemaker", and my father far too many principles and creativity to "make it big" in the business world. 18 My most p ro found exper iences with .both h o p e a n d depression o c c u r r e d during a d o l e s c e n c e . As a sensitive chi ld, growing up in a w e i g h t - p r e o c c u p i e d family a n d a fat p h o b i c culture, I l ea rned to find power over rather than within my body . I expressed my existential bewi lderment through a n extreme vege ta r ian diet. Eat ing or rather not ea t ing , b e c a m e a l a n g u a g e from wh ich I spoke a b o u t determinat ion a n d protest. A d e e p sense of despair overtook my life for a lmost three years. I b e c a m e obsessed with the holocaust . I r ead every a c c o u n t I c o u l d find of survivors. It was as if I h a d d e c i d e d to m a k e the study of despai r my raison d'etre. Therapy a n d med ica t i on c o u l d not break the spell, I felt greater despair at every visit to a different psychiatrist w h o wou ld prescr ibe a n e w med ica t ion . Psychiatrist after psychiatrist in formed m e that they h a d never e n c o u n t e r e d a sixteen-year o ld w h o suffered from existential depression. It was as if my refusal to privatize my pa in m a d e m e unt reatab le . It was only after be ing hospital ized in a setting wh ich ep i tomized despai r that I was a b l e to l oca te hope . My journey b a c k from irretrievable sadness is thanks to my family a n d friends, but most of all d u e to my sense of ou t rage at what I a n d other expe r i enced at the hands of that institution. I also d e v e l o p e d a c lose relationship with another younger w o m a n whose despai r I sensed was more en t renched , a n d w h o was later sexually assaul ted by a night nurse after I left, I have a lways felt that the fac t that in a matter of weeks, I was ab le to talk myself out of a psychiatr ic hospital intent on keep ing me as a n inpatient for a m u c h longer per iod is e v i d e n c e that I c a n d o anything (Grandiosity?). It is interesting to note that journal writing was one of the ways I ma in ta ined 19 some sense of sanity in that environment a n d that I a m writing this n o w in my diary. Drawing, sewing, paint ing, writing poetry a n d long walks with my friend Mary a n d her beauti ful daughters S h e e n a a n d Miche l le assisted m e in recover ing some sense of normality a n d h o p e that I too o n e d a y might b e well enough to walk in the park with my chi ldren. Long walks with my soul sister D e e D e e a n d my p u p p y P i c c o l a in Stanley Park h a v e s a v e d my beauty , my goodness throughout the process of writing this work. in W o m e n W h o Run With The Wolves, Myths a n d Stories of The Wild W o m a n A r c h e t y p e (1992. P. 265), Clarissa Pinkola Estes' "Sealskin, Soulskin" tells the story of the theft of women's soulskin, a pel t that represents "a state of be ing -one that is cohes ive, soulful, a n d on the wildish f ema le side". She states that the theft takes p l a c e w h e n the s e a l w o m a n is still y o u n g or inexper ienced a n d c a n not an t ic ipa te that humans signify potent ia l harm. I feel a connec t i on to this story as it has s e e m e d to me that I c o u l d not enjoy the maturity, the dep th of understanding a n d other talents assoc ia ted with a sensitive chi ld b e c a u s e in my i n n o c e n c e I h a d not b e e n p r e p a r e d for a wor ld that wou ld l eave m e by a d o l e s c e n c e , r a v a g e d by despair . The story also illuminates my sense of be ing a n outsider; I h a v e a lways known in my deepes t center that I a m a merma id w h o must b e vigilant of human beings. My journey ever s ince a d o l e s c e n c e has b e e n towards understanding humans; I d o not imag ine I c a n rid the world of despair a n d anguish, it is my belief however that w e c a n find wholeness by integrating the s h a d o w or unders ide of expe r ience . 20 Shere Hite's (1995, p .60) most recent research on the family under the inf luences of patr iarchy reveals the ways in wh ich girls d e v e l o p "doub le identities" in order to pro tec t "their underground self" beh ind "a g o o d girl" f a g a d e . She exposes the ways in wh ich cultural d iscomfort a round sexuality on the one hand , a n d the sexualization of girls on the other, l e a d girls to a sense of shame regard ing their o w n desires. Emily Hancock 's qual i tat ive explorat ion of The Girl Within (19891 explores the ways in wh i ch girls' vo ices g o underground through a d o l e s c e n c e ; whereas a boy's expe r i ence c a n b e c o m e o n e of i nc reased power , a girl's exper ience is of inc reased risk (p. 20). She descr ibes the retrieval of the p repubescen t "girl within" w h o "naturally synthesizes the dualit ies of f ema le a n d ma le in her androgyny, fuses p lay a n d work in her purposeful activity, reconci les love a n d ha te in her lack of cont rad ic t ion" (p.259) as emanc ipa to ry . This thesis is a form of c o m m u n i o n with my o w n "girl within", a n a t tempt to honor her w isdom to wi thdraw to sanctuary, while seeking out the treasures she buried long a g o . In A Woman 's Worth, Mar ianne Will iamson asserts that w o m e n who turn to food , a l coho l a n d drugs for comfor t may not b e quiet ing their anger , more so their creativity, that w e live "in a world that does not know from ecsta t ic w o m e n , or wan t to know, or e v e n al low them to exist" (1993, p. 14). It c o u l d b e theor ized that d isordered ea t ing b e c o m e s a w a y of not only dull ing women 's pa in but also diluting our power a n d creativity. Ove r the last few months, I have b e e n rocked by d e e p emot ion . I a m startled by the cont rad ic t ion that makes up the main point of this thesis a n d my feminist v iew of women's distress. For years I h a v e b e e n writing, telling, t each ing that in this culture, feelings of distress a n d disorder . 21 "makes sense", that they are not mater ial for pa tho log i ca l ca tegor ies but ammuni t ion for ac t ion a n d redress. Yet in my heart I know that it will never, ever "make sense" that I lost almost three years of my y o u n g life to this " tragedy" of patr iarchy (Brewer, 1994). It will never b e "unders tandable" that my will to self-determination mean t want ing more to d ie than to live. It will never b e a c c e p t a b l e that my parents, my sisters, my best fr iend h a d to s tand by a n d w a t c h a " good girl" bat t le against a n evil world as though she was the only one left s tanding. It will a lways s e e m incomprehens ib le that my only reprieve from my inner turmoil b e c a m e burning my arms a n d cutt ing my s tomach . IT WILL NEVER MAKE SENSE THAT W O M E N HURT LIKE THIS. My life's craft is to refine, search a n d re-search growth. The p rac t i ce of socia l work is only one form of this cal l ing. Theatre, design, music, botany, my relationship with animals a n d chi ldren all express this reason for be ing . More than anyth ing I a m s w a y e d by bear ing witness to the process of transformation of all life forms. How have I traversed this dark time, at this juncture of my o w n unfolding ? A d e e p sense of privi lege guards against cyn ic ism a n d despair. From where d o I d raw the gifts of privi lege a n d self-worth ? The know ledge that a w o m a n of my nature a n d gifts wou ld h a v e certainly met worst fa te h a d I l ived not so long a g o provides for some of my determinat ion. More than this it is the rewards of my devo t ion to growth, with its cyc les of gestat ion, birth a n d pain, d e c a y , dea th , fertilization, p r e g n a n c y a n d new life. My devo t ion is to this: I know in my belly that all chi ldren are born smart a n d g o o d , to b e cher ished for their o w n unique w a y of be ing . I h a v e 22 seen gl impses of a future where girls d o not h a v e to mask their inte l l igence a n d creativity with niceness a n d passivity or s c r e a m no more through starvation or dea th . I h a v e visions of a n imminent t ime w h e n boys know that their measure of worth no longer rests u p o n their ability to dull a n d d e n y the pa in of be ing under the rule of the Father, where the d e a d e n i n g of emot ions will no longer b e the e v i d e n c e of their assent into m a n h o o d . I see unfolding scripts that recogn ize depression, add i c t i on a n d d isordered eat ing as protests against regimes that must no longer hold the p lanet in peril. I feel a per iod in t ime will c o m e w h e n the ability to speak a n d understand our feelings will sustain relationships that a l low us to v iew our emotions a n d talents as our unique truths a n d pa thways into p e a c e . I ho ld a n i m a g e of a p l a c e where history is taught as a learning tool to every chi ld so that racism a n d cultural g e n o c i d e i n d e e d b e c o m e 'history1, lessons of the past. I h a v e a p ic ture in my mind of times past w h e n material responsibility a n d our in terconnectedness with all species was seen as our birthright, a n d of a destiny w h e n w e o n c e a g a i n recogn ize the e lementa l powe r of air, water, earth, wind a n d fire that sustain our beings. I h a v e c o m e to feel in my bones that a c a d e m i c jargon a n d writing are not e v i d e n c e that one c a n p lay the g a m e , a n d win. Rather, I feel that it represents "a l amb dressed up in a wolf's clothing", that it signifies a lack of c o n f i d e n c e a n d support for creativity, serving to s i lence those w h o h a v e any measure of 'wholeness' left. This story of mine is a jumping off point f rom wh ich I issue a dec la ra t ion of wholeness. All of me is here now. 23 These p o e m s were written while I was still in the grips of depression a n d d isordered ea t ing as a younger w o m a n : Anore?qa 'Politico. They call it Anorexia 9{ewosa As if This young woman has suddenly Been afflicted with some terrible disease TUS-TASL with herself Iter se?Qiality the forced disowning of her own body her natural place in society As mother lover giver victim She will not eat Because she cannot be ever be their perfect plastic 'Doll on Call 24 'Bulimia Mon Amour "This is not a comfortable, place My skin feels too tight for my expanding body "The bulge of tummy hurts I don't want men to look\at me to take, to touch zvhat isn't theirs So I eat to k\eep (7UC% 077) them away I must binge to nourish me (the only way I know hozv) 9{p one else will feed me 9{pt even my mother She wants me to be happy and thin I hate to live such an oral obsession [ending life to 7Teudian 7&irly tales "This place where I am "This Bulimia is a Bridge between my mothers arms And a woman's culture that Scares Angers Inspires me Chapter Three Literature So it is Setter to speak rememSering we were never meant to survive -Siudre Lorde, A Litany for Survival The Construction of 'Eating Disorders This literature review will depar t from current a p p r o a c h e s wh ich de l inea te "cl in ical depression" from "eat ing disorders". In order to c h a l l e n g e this presupposit ion, the not ion of depression has b e e n re f ramed as "feelings of depression", not necessari ly assumed to descr ibe a distinct expe r ience . A n overv iew of the primary ideo log ica l c o n c e p t s wh i ch h a v e led to the notion of "eat ing disorders" as a relevant descr ipt ion of women 's exper iences will b e presented a n d cr i t iqued. Discursive p rac t i ces h a v e led to the d e v e l o p m e n t of a "body of know ledge " regard ing both the et iology a n d t reatment of eat ing disorders. The theoret ica l origins of the product ion a n d reproduct ion of the p h e n o m e n o n of ea t ing disorders b e g a n with a psychoana ly t i c theory of women 's exper ience of se l f - induced starvation. Family systems or cyberne t i c viewpoints assisted in cemen t i ng the construct of anorex ia a n d the psychosomat i c /Ano rex i c family, a n d the c h a o t i c / e n m e s h e d bul imic family system. Feminist psychoana ly t ic theory a n d self-in-relation theory rendered "eat ing disorders" a n important c o n c e r n for w o m e n . The self-help m o v e m e n t m a d e anorex ia , bul imia a n d compu ls i ve ea t ing a p p e a r to b e someth ing everyone c o u l d expe r ience . 26 Tsychoanatytic Theory The theoret ica l origins of "eat ing disorders" as a d isease aff l ict ing w o m e n lie in psychoana ly t i c theory. Ego deficit, l ibidinal prob lems a n d internalized sexual conf l ict are seen as be ing the main difficulties underly ing "eat ing disorders"(Currie,1988). Con tempo ra r y psychoana ly t i c theory has con t inued to support the v iew that women 's emot iona l prob lems arise out of a n a t o m i c a l or int rapsychic pa tho logy . Hilde Bruch (1973) v i e w e d anorex ia as a response to overly intrusive mother ing or as "father hunger" in a young w o m a n stunted in her psychosexua l d e v e l o p m e n t or f ixated in a n "Electra complex" . The emphasis on the disruption or inappropr iateness of c a r e in early c h i l d h o o d exper iences such as feed ing understands ea t ing disorders as be ing a p roduc t of g o o d or b a d mother ing. Others h a v e v i e w e d anorex ia as a desire to de lay a d o l e s c e n c e a n d reject ion of femininity (Crisp, 1980). A l though there is some a c k n o w l e d g m e n t that f ema le ado lescen ts m a y i n d e e d h a v e reasons for want ing to reject the inferiority inherent in b e c o m i n g a w o m a n , the b l a m e is p l a c e d on the individual mother w h o was a poor e x a m p l e of her gender . Psychoana ly t ic theory has rece ived great criticism from feminist scholars (Chesler,1972, Lerman, 1986, Steinem,1992). Some feminists h a v e a t t e m p t e d to find some va lue in Freud's work (Mitchell, 1974, Barney a n d Cantor , 1986), point ing out that w o m e n may rece ive inferior a n d insufficient c a r e as infants a n d young chi ldren, a n d that assigning b l a m e to mothers rather than looking at what prevents mothers from fully support ing their daughters d e v e l o p m e n t leads to a stripping a w a y of the context a n d therefore mean ing of the prob lem. Wha t is more, 27 Freud's refutation for the sake of his career , of his "seduct ion theory", whe reby he h a d recogn ized the sexual abuse of chi ldren by their parents a n d other caregivers as the root of many adul t neuroses, may h a v e d i rec ted the entire history a n d future of psychoana ly t i c theory, by deny ing the reality of a form of abuse that has i m p a c t e d so many peop le 's lives. All the same, psychoana ly t i c theory has con t i nued to inform the majority of t reatment models, where p s y c h o d y n a m i c therapies a re c o m p l e m e n t e d with nutritional counsel l ing a n d weight m a n a g e m e n t . Ironically, the a p p r o a c h seems d o o m e d to fail insofar as the focus of t reatment rests upon controll ing women's relationship to f o o d by monitoring a n d control l ing their bodies, w h e n the very symptoms of their d i lemmas speak for their n e e d for feel ing in control of their bodies. Grimillion (1992) asserts that this a p p r o a c h of focusing on the symptom rather than the sociocultural forces beh ind d isordered ea t ing has solidif ied the ho ld of "eat ing disorders" over young w o m e n . Object 'Relations 'Theory O b j e c t relations theory takes the v iew that h u m a n beings grow a n d d e v e l o p in relation to significant others or "objects". W o m e n a n d m e n c o m e to def ine themselves as g o o d a n d desirable or b a d a n d undesirable a c c o r d i n g to the nature of their first relationship with their mother whereby they form a menta l representat ion of self a n d others. From a n ob jec t relations a c c o u n t , ea t ing disorders o c c u r w h e n chi ldren rece ive insufficient c a r e in the "holding environment". As with psychoana ly t i c theory, the mother is a t fault o n c e a g a i n for prob lems of personali ty or psychopa tho logy in the deve lop ing chi ld. The mother must b e c o m e the per fect mirror for the deve lop ing infant. A c c o r d i n g to 28 this viewpoint, mothers must first a c c e p t a n d fulfill their own desires a n d needs in order to present a n idealizing mirror i m a g e of their child's desires a n d needs . Any exper iences of pa in , fear, v io lence , the very exper iences that m a k e up many women 's eve ryday lives, must not b e ref lected b a c k to the chi ld. Chi ldren who rece ive poor c a r e will "split off" aspec ts of self into g o o d a n d b a d , c reat ing a "false self" a n d substitute b a d mother objects for g o o d mother objects in the form of f ood . O b j e c t relations theory, like psychoana ly t i c standpoint asserts the pa tho logy of the exper ience without a n understanding of culture (Craig, 1990). Feminist ob jec t relation theorists such as N a n c y C h o d o r o w h a v e a t t e m p t e d to a d d culture to the ob jec t relations lens. However, the focus has con t inued to remain on mothering, in this c a s e how mothers pass on negat ive views of the self to their daughters. The quest ion of how institutions other than the family, such as the school system or m e d i a contr ibute to women 's poor views of themselves is d i sp l aced by the focus on the mother-daughter relationship as primary source of learning. The assumpt ion that mothers a lone c a n prov ide uncondi t ional ly idea l ized mirroring images b a c k to a chi ld is unrealistic a n d denies the impac t of other relationships on chi ldren. What is more, the assumption that mothers must first a c c e p t their own needs so as to a c c e p t their child's, denies the difficulty w o m e n f a c e in expressing their o w n needs g iven the cultural imperat ive to assume the primary provision of c a r e for others. 29 family Systems Theory The a d v e n t of the work of R.D. Laing who studied patterns of c o m m u n i c a t i o n in the family greatly in f luenced the field of family therapy a n d theories explain ing "eat ing disorders" (Currie,1988). From a n et io logy of poor mother ing to a n et iology of neurot ic psychosomat i c families, the focus shifted from mother /ch i ld relationships to paren t /ch i ld relationship as a m e a n s to exp l ica te the distress of "eat ing disorders". In actual i ty, the focus rema ined on mother /ch i ld dyads, where the involvement of other family members was enlisted in order to cor rec t poor mother ing. Family systems theories h a v e not only rep l i ca ted a n isolated unders tanding of mother ing within the family, but have also fai led to situate the provision of women 's ca r ing a n d the family within a larger sociopol i t ica l system of soc ia l relations. To illustrate, Palazzoli cons idered family patterns of c o m m u n i c a t i o n to b e of the greatest impor tance in understanding "eat ing disorders" (1974). She identif ied five problems in the "anorexic family": cont rad ic tory messages sent a n d re jected with no conf l ic t resolution; parents that d id not assume leadership roles leav ing no o n e to take c h a r g e in the f a c e of problems; the tr iangulation of the anorex ic ch i ld within the parenta l relationship; the imperat ive to b e self-sacrificing; a n d finally a marr iage where a h a p p y f a c a d e hid a disturbed c o u p l e relationship. Structural therapists such Salvador Munuch in (1978) identif ied five p rob lem areas in "anorexic families" as the c a u s e of the psychiatr ic disorder: enmeshment , involvement of the chi ld in parenta l confl ict, rigidity, overprotect iveness a n d lack of conf l ic t resolution. Hyperv ig i lance on the part of the mother was to b e remed ied by the father mode l ing a more distant a n d therefore appropr ia te w a y of relating to the daughter . W h e n a mother was not be ing "too e n m e s h e d " she was cons ide red 30 negl igent for be ing "too distant", As with earlier theoret ical frameworks, little if any attent ion was p l a c e d on the w a y in wh ich w e construct g e n d e r a n d mothers con t inued to b e seen as the source of all dysfunct ional behav io r . W h e n the relational context is a d d e d to a family systems perpec t i ve , the source of pa tho lgy shifts from mother to daughter herself whose "egocent r i c " personality traits a n d "self-regulatory vulnerabilit ies" l e a d her to b e c o m e "harm avo idant " (Johnson, Sanson a n d C h e w i n g , 1996, p i ) . In other words, failure of the mother to prov ide c a r e for her daughte r renders her chi ld psychopa tho log ica i , A cross-cultural perspect ive in contrast, il luminates h o w "parenti f ied" a n d psychosomat i c chi ldren m a y actua l ly b e performing a culturally asc r ibed role to " load" the pa in of others. The p h e n o m e n o n of " loaders" (Eisner, 1995) m a y d a t e b a c k to tribal times w h e n more inact ive members carr ied the burdens of psycho log ica l l y a n d physicall ly ove rwhe lmed members of their c lans. W o m e n h a v e in more recent history often carr ied the burdens of family members out of both social izat ion a n d as a result of the division of labour d u e to industrialization. This demonstrates how a contextua l reconstruct ion of familial relations wou ld offer a r ich 'understanding of the purpose a n d m e a n i n g of young womens ' bodi ly distress, Teminist 'Psycfioanafytic Theory During the 1970's distinctly feminist psychoanaly t ic theories a n d prac t ices b e g a n to c r e a t e new discourse from wh ich to v iew women 's exper iences of distress. In 1978, Susie O r b a c h publ ished Fat is a Feminist Issue, This groundbreak ing work was the first a t tempt at a n e n g e n d e r e d 31 analysis of wha t was up until that time, a n exper ience that solely a f f ec ted w o m e n . O r b a c h (1986) went on to explore how anorex ia was in fac t a t rade off: in order to enter into the ma le wor ld a w o m a n h a d to b e willing to negot ia te through the transformation of her body . O r b a c h e x a m i n e d parent ing as well as the intrapsychic deve lopmen t of w o m e n , but this t ime the analysis o c c u r r e d through a feminist lens, whe reby women 's p rob lemat i c emot iona l deve lopmen t was f ramed within a culture in wh ich they are responsible for the c a r e of others. W h e n one v i e w e d parent ing as historically situated within a g iven culture, in lieu of b laming neurot ic mothers for raising psychosomat ica l ly disturbed chi ldren, the culture c a m e under scrutiny as the site of the origins of "eat ing disorders". Like ob jec t relation theorists, feminist psychoanalysts v iew the mother /daugh te r relationship as a primary source of difficulty. W o m e n are e n c o u r a g e d to deny their daughters their emot iona l needs so as to p repa re t hem for a life of service. A high i n c i d e n c e of sexual a b u s e a m o n g w o m e n report ing "eat ing disorders" is also seen as a cent ra l part of the deve lopmen t of the prob lem. Chernin (1981, p.2) asserts that a w o m a n p r e o c c u p i e d with the size of her b o d y may in fac t b e mak ing a s ta tement abou t the fac t that "she feels uncomfor tab le be ing fema le in this culture". More recently, the social c l imate of consumerism a n d the object i f icat ion of the fema le b o d y (Bloom, Gitter, Gutwil l, Kogel & Zaphiroulos, 1994) h a v e informed feminist psychoana ly t i c theory. A l though this school of thought has begun to a t tend to the reality of fat oppression a n d weight prejudice, a n d its role in the c reat ion of d isordered eat ing, the focus of theory a n d t reatment has primarily rested u p o n the p rob lem of anorex ia. This state of affairs begs the quest ion as 32 to whether the interest in anorex ia reflects a n d thereby reproduces e lements of the very fat phob ia in the larger culture that has led to d isordered ea t ing . Sdj-In-'Rdadon Theory A survey of the literature regarding self-in-relation theory reveals that m a n y con tempora ry scholars are explor ing the impor tance of relationships in women 's deve lopmen t a n d menta l heal th a n d the ways in wh ich w o m e n def ine themselves through relationships. These theorists d o not speci f ical ly focus on "eat ing disorders", but a re nonetheless relevant insofar as they bring a feminist perspect ive to the issues of women 's deve lopmen t . A lexand ra G . Kap lan (1984) has desc r i bed h o w tradit ional mode ls of d e v e l o p m e n t where individualism a n d separateness are seen as indicators of g o o d menta l heal th d o not take into a c c o u n t the va lue w o m e n p l a c e on connec t i on . Ca ro le Gi l l igan (1988) a n d J e a n Baker Miller (1991) be l ieve that w o m e n c o m e to see themselves as either ef f ic ient g o o d a n d worthy, or ineffective, b a d a n d undeserving, a c c o r d i n g to the state of primary relationships in their lives. D a n a Craw ley J a c k (1991) asserts that in w o m e n exper ienc ing depression, the self has b e e n s i lenced to mee t the needs of others a n d to mainta in relationships vital to women's sense of connec t i on . As w o m e n w h o f a c e "depression" also often report d isordered ea t ing , Jack 's theory is interesting for understanding the ways in wh ich w o m e n are depr i ved of nourishment, both literally a n d metaphor ica l ly . This unders tand ing nonetheless presupposes that o n c e relationships b e c o m e more fulfilling for w o m e n , their exper iences of distress will subside. While a c k n o w l e d g i n g that the social izat ion of girls leads to a n 33 investment in the impor tance of relationship, this assumption repl icates essentialist views a b o u t ma le a n d fema le 'di f ference', without quest ioning whether it is the relational context a lone that leads to girls a n d women 's exper iences of distress. (Postmodern/'PoststructuraCist "Theory Socia l construct ionism as a p p l i e d to theories of h u m a n d e v e l o p m e n t a n d relationship d i lemmas examines the ways in wh ich our exper iences of the wor ld are fo rmed through l a n g u a g e a n d how ideas " c o m e only through d ia logue, either internal d ia logue or conversat ions with others" (Penn a n d Frankfurt, 1994,p.218). Through the therapeut ic process a n a t tempt is m a d e to c rea te a d ia log ic s p a c e (Penn a n d Frankfurt, 1994), where m e a n i n g is " c o - c r e a t e d from the empa the t i c e x c h a n g e w h e n w e treat e a c h other as subjects" (1994, p.222). Steven M a d i g a n (1993) suggests that a person deve lops a "textual identity", where the stories they h a v e a b o u t themselves c a n b e c h a l l e n g e d through the process of "externalization", where the person is not the prob lem, but the "prob lem is the problem". In repl icat ing the work of Dav id Epston, M a d i g a n , a loca l V a n c o u v e r therapist has assemb led a n ant i -anorexia/ant i -bul imia l e a g u e through Ya le town Family Therapy. In theory, the purpose of the ant i -anorexia/ant i -bul imia l e a g u e is to batt le "eat ing disorders" as a form of pol i t ical oppression, however the l a n g u a g e a n d form of the struggle is remarkably androcent r ic . For examp le , he uses terms such as the "dea th c a m p " expe r ience of f ac ing anorex ia wh ich smacks of the l a n g u a g e of war. In addi t ion, a d ichotomous, "us against them" p a r a d i g m is set up where a w o m a n is m a d e to feel she must "battle" a n d "fight" the "eat ing disorder". A feminist read ing of such strategies also points to the p rob lem 34 of exc lud ing exper ience that c o u l d inform our understanding of the leg i t imacy of d isordered eat ing, g iven the cultural imperat ive to pursue slenderness at all costs. 'What's missing: A ContextualReconstruction of'Young Women's Bodily 'Distress Reconstruct ing young women 's bodi ly distress in context situates feelings of depression a n d d isordered ea t ing on "a cont inuum" a n d as a n indicator of "gender trouble" (Butler, 1990). This contextua l v iew will examine women 's p r e o c c u p a t i o n with weight as a means to improving their e c o n o m i c status, the unpa id labour of women 's car ing a n d the c o n s e q u e n c e s of "po l i ced car ing", a n d the m e d i c a l mytho logy promot ing the v iew that health a n d happiness c a n b e pu rchased . Also relevant to this analysis is the way in wh ich "feminist values" have b e e n c o - o p t e d by the marke tp lace in order to link a n d transpose women 's struggles for e m a n c i p a t i o n to women 's struggles with weight. A crit ical read ing of the literature calls to question the notions of d isordered ea t ing a n d depression as separa te a n d distinct ca tegor ies of p h e n o m e n o n , a n d as relevant descript ions of young women 's exper iences. If most w o m e n in North A m e r i c a n culture most of the t ime feel dissatisfied with their bod ies a n d t roubled over their relationship with f o o d (Thompson, 1994), "eat ing disorders" a n d "cl inical depress ion" c a n b e seen as patho l ig ized a c c o u n t s of women 's lives. A c c o r d i n g to Woo ley (1994), context is all important. Disordered eat ing c a n b e unders tood as a s tatement in c o d e abou t young women 's "context". Y o u n g w o m e n are saying with their bodies what they are not saying in words: their self-determination a n d feelings of self-worth are cons t ruc ted 35 through a struggle over a n d with their b o d i e s . This contextua l v iew recognizes feel ings of depression a n d d isordered ea t ing as normat ive exper iences for young w o m e n in con tempora ry Western culture. A contex tua l understanding of "eat ing disorders", that is to say "anorex ia nervosa", "bul imia" a n d "compuls ive ea t ing" wou ld situate these exper iences a l ong a cont inuum of d isordered ea t ing wh ich begins with the imperat ive to b e a w a r e of our bod ies in relation to a social ly cons t ruc ted norm (Brown, 1993). Kaschak (1992) has p roposed the fol lowing two main points in order to understand d isordered eat ing : through d isordered ea t ing w o m e n express their exper iences or feel ings of c h a o s a n d "dis-order" a n d ; d isordered ea t ing deve lops as a n a t tempt to m a k e order out of the c h a o s a n d confusion. W o m e n w h o express d isordered ea t ing are therefore trying to regain a sense of control over their lives amidst a storm of conf l ict ing feelings (Pipher,1994). This a p p r o a c h to women 's exper iences at tends to the resistance in d isordered ea t ing a n d the potential ly subversive fo rce beh ind "women 's disorders". Subversion through imitation, or over c o m p l i a n c e with expec ta t ions leads us to deconst ruc t gende r (Butler, 1990). From this view, "Anorexia Nervosa" c a n b e seen as "Anorexia Politico", where fasting c a n b e seen as a hunger strike against cultural expectat ions of be ing fema le (O rbach , 1986). Disordered eat ing c a n therefore b e unders tood as a n effort in self-product ion rather than sel f -ef facement. A m e d i c a l m o d e l of the p h e n o m e n o n not only fails to a c c o u n t for the historically s i tuated cultural context, but articulates that a feminist perspect ive identifying 36 culture as the primary et io logy of "eat ing disorders" is incorrect b e c a u s e if culture was i ndeed the cause , then all w o m e n wou ld report "eat ing disorders". This misreading of a contextua l s tance presupposes that a feminist crit ique implies: "an ident ical cultural situation for all w o m e n rather than the descr ipt ion of ideo log ica l a n d institutional parameters govern ing the construct ion of gende r in our culture" (Bordo, 1993, p.61). A serious cha l l enge to the understanding of d isordered ea t ing as a n individual or family pa tho logy is found in a closer examinat ion of the pa tho logy of the larger culture. C a n a d i a n society is a "looks-stratified" culture. W o m e n diet not only to feel better abou t how they look but b e c a u s e the idea l of a thin b o d y is presented as be ing healthier. Excess b o d y fat is o n e of the most st igmatized physical features, a n d is all the more distressing b e c a u s e it is thought to b e under a n individual's control (Wooley,1979). Most research in the a r e a of obesity has i nd i ca ted that the poor a re more likely to b e of higher weight but as Rothblum (1992) has asserted, the assumption that poorer p e o p l e are fat b e c a u s e of a lack of e d u c a t i o n appea rs erroneous w h e n w e cons ider the quest ion from the other direct ion a n d ask: wha t if p e o p l e who are of higher weight are actua l ly poor b e c a u s e they are fat ? The soc ia l regulat ion of women 's bodies, the order ing a n d (dis)ordering of f o o d is not simply abou t vanity a n d the pursuit of beauty , rather our b o d y size like our skin color, a g e a n d hair texture has a direct i m p a c t on our e c o n o m i c status (Siebecker, 1990). Research findings suggest that w o m e n w h o are of higher weight are discr iminated against in entry to 37 educational institutions, denied equal access to employment and therefore are more likely to live in poverty (Maclnnis,1993). The process of the "glamorization" of disordered eating (Garner and Gaiflnkel, 1985) has led to its downwards trickle, where preoccupation with weight is seen as a move in the direction of "upward mobility". Women of color experience the oppressive aspects of "weightism" (or the imperative to be body and weight-preoccupied) doubly (Buchanan, 1993), Women of color pay a greater price for not fitting cultural expectations around • body shape and size, Michael Jackson's "lightening" of his skin serves to reinforce a Caucasian ideal of beauty and illuminates internalized hatred of difference. Brown (1987) has theorized that lesbian women may be less impacted by the pressure to pursue a lower weight, This supposition may be correct for lesbian and bisexual women with a political or feminist identity, however, internalized homophobia can take many forms where some women may feel preoccupied with demonstrating their femininity in the face of heterosexist stereotypes. Research suggests that heterosexual women are the most preoccupied, then lesbian women, then gay men and lastly heterosexual men (Buchanan, 1993). The purposes of this research with young women who have faced feelings of depression and disordered eating precludes an in-depth discussion of body image dissatisfaction in men. It is noteworthy however, that gay men are more likely to be dissatisfied with their bodies and further research on the issue of men and body image is imperative. I have been unable to locate any research regarding the experiences of women or men living with disabilities in terms of disordered eating or 38 weight p r e o c c u p a t i o n . The points c o u l d b e m a d e that either researchers h a v e fa i led to recogn ize this group as hav ing conce rns a round b o d y i m a g e or that industries involved in the p roduc t ion of d isordered ea t ing such as the diet a n d fitness businesses d o not pe rce i ve e c o n o m i c va lue in selling the idea l b o d y to this g roup of consumers . Women's Unpaid Labour and The Consequences of 'ToCiced Caring" A c c o r d i n g to the United Nations, w o m e n d o two-thirds of the world's work a n d still two-thirds of w o m e n the world over live in poverty (Nairobi, as c i ted in Wetzel, 1994). The World Health Organizat ion has stated that the most eff icient a n d exped ien t means to improving the heal th of p e o p l e ail over the wor ld is to improve women 's heal th b e c a u s e w o m e n are not only responsible for the reproduct ion of humanity but are largely responsible for its survival (Leuning,1994). Go ld ing (1988) has asserted that women 's higher rates of menta l heal th "problems" are a d i rect result of their socia l roles. In the Nat ional Film Board of C a n a d a ' s Who's Coun t ing : Sex. Lies & G l o b a l Economics (1995), Marilyn Waring asserts that two of the greatest problems in the "G loba l Economy" relate directly to w o m e n . In the first p l a c e , our e c o n o m y is structured so that "as long as a n activity passes through the market, it is cons idered g o o d for the e c o n o m y " (Waring, 1995). Therefore, e c o l o g i c a l disasters such as o c e a n oil spills, or cosmet i c surgery such as d e a d l y breast implants are of " e c o n o m i c va lue" e v e n if they incur great e c o l o g i c a l , an ima l or h u m a n cost. Second ly , women 's car ing is not a c c o u n t e d for in the e c o n o m y anywhere in the world. Even Marxist theory regarding the state p resupposed the division of labour, exc lud ing domest ic labour, that is to 39 say m u c h of women 's work from the equa t ion (Conel l , 1994). Feminist Marxists or Feminist Materialists such as Clai re Burton (1985) h a v e establ ished the purpose of women 's labour a n d its role in the e c o n o m i c politics of the state: this unpa id or poorly p a i d work whereby w o m e n prov ide heal th ca re , cook , c l e a n a n d dress other workers a n d their d e p e n d e n t s sustains the e c o n o m i c market a n d its marg in of profit for industry. In Western culture, w o m e n are po l i ced into car ing (Reitsma-Street,1991). Women 's d e v e l o p m e n t a n d identities are r iddled with pa radoxes (Kaschak,1992). If w e aspire to b e g o o d a n d fulfill our socia l role a n d obl igat ions, w e m a y b e c o m e " g o o d girls" a n d " g o o d w o m e n " , but w e will not b e v a l u e d as product ive members of the larger wor ld b e c a u s e the aspec ts of life in wh ich w e are skilled are not va lued , let a l one recogn ized , economica l l y . In Western culture, w o m e n are soc ia l ized to defer their needs to others, to c a r e , to listen, to c o n n e c t a n d to b e p r e o c c u p i e d general ly with the wel l -being of others (Jack, 1991). To b e loved , w e n e e d to p lease others. W e are not e n c o u r a g e d to learn mastery skills (Gilligan,1991). In subtle a n d not so subtle ways, girls still f a c e discrimination within e d u c a t i o n (Pipher,1994). W e are not e n c o u r a g e d to say that w e know the answer to the question a n d instead state: "It's just my opinion". For girls a n d w o m e n w h o dare speak that they d o know the answers, the c o n s e q u e n c e s of demonstrat ing their intel l igence a n d k n o w l e d g e seems to h a v e c h a n g e d little over the last o n e hundred years. A compar i son of Sigmund Freud's c a s e studies at the turn of the century 40 with those of con tempora ry therapists working in "eat ing disorders" is startling in the similarities of the w o m e n desc r ibed a n d serves to i l luminate the origins of the medica l izat ion of women's distress (Perlick & Silversteia 1994). W o m e n t rea ted by Freud for "eat ing disorders" a n d depression or "me lancho l i a " a re d e s c r i b e d as possessing "the c learest inte l lect . . .and highest crit ical power" (Freud, 1905/1963, p34, as c i ted in Perlick a n d Silversteia 1994, p.83). In A Dark Sc ience : W o m e n , Sexuality a n d Nineteenth Century Psychiatry, Jeoffrey Masson (1986) descr ibes the un imag inab le torture carr ied out on women 's bod ies in the n a m e of cur ing them of their "afflictions" or, in other words, their intel l igence. Ma ins t ream psycho log ica l theory cont inues to pathol ig ize women 's distress, a n d d isordered eat ing c a n b e seen as "a social ly spec i f i c expression of the impossibility of women's sub jec ted position within con tempora ry patr iarchal society" (Malson,1992, p.83). The 'Economics of MedicaCization The d e v e l o p m e n t of a "med i ca l mode l " inc luding psycho log i ca l theory, a n d the individualist ideo logy espoused in popu lar literature regard ing w o m e n ' s "problems" h a v e cont r ibuted to the p roduc t ion of d isordered eat ing through the proliferation of the c o n c e p t s of heal th a n d happiness as commodi t ies . Illich (1986, as c i ted in Al lan, 1994) has desc r i bed h o w the m e d i c a l establ ishment in individualizing heal th has fostered the i d e a that w e c a n p r o d u c e the b o d y that w e want . Traditional psychiatry a n d psycho logy h a v e sought to delimit a n d order the h u m a n exper iences of pa in a n d fear so as to present a distant ob jec t ive authority (Kaschak,1992). Berman (1992), caut ions against assuming that deconstruct ionist p rac t ices such as feminism h a v e h a d a 41 great impact on ideology let alone the way we live our lives. That is to say that 'modernity1, the belief that we can better our lives through scientific precision and self-control, continues to dictate our understanding of distress. Thomas Moore (1992) in Care of The Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life describes how "psychological modernism" (p.206) has led to the belief that all of human suffering can be "cured" by examining "matters of the heart" in a machine-like manner, as if we were "human doings" rather than "human beings". David Smail (1993), in The Origins of Unhappiness: A New Understanding of Personal Distress, describes how we now make meaning of our different life stages, as "consumers" in relation to the market economy. Smail (1993, p. 121) contends that therefore "a breakdown in the power of the market will be experienced as personal breakdown". "Therapism" (Tallen, 1990), the process of uncritically attributing social problems to individual causes and resolutions is pervasive in contemporary discourse as exemplified by "commodity assistance" or counselling. Smail criticizes therapy for "appropriating and marketing aspects of care and concern which should constitute the everyday ethical life of any humane society" (p. 111). James Hillman and Michael Ventura have gone so far as to. state that therapy prevents humanity from effecting social change and have declared that We've Had One Hundred Years of Psychotherapy And The World is Getting Worse (1992). 42 To illustrate, the self-help movemen t wh ich or ig inated out of a desire for p e o p l e to b e more invo lved in their o w n wel l be ing demonst ra tes the inf luences of e c o n o m i c s on the w a y w e c o m p r e h e n d a n d decontex tua l ize distress. A c c o r d i n g to W e n d y Kaminer in her crit ique of the self-help m o v e m e n t I'm dysfunct iona l You're dysfunct ional (1992), the multi-million dollar industry presents the world as a p l a c e where "anyone c a n b e healthy, spiritually cen te red , rich a n d thin - with faith, self- discipl ine a n d the willingness to take direct ion (p.27). In The Self on the Shelf: Recove ry Books a n d the G o o d Life, G a ry G r e e n b e r g (1994) relates the present popu la r not ion of " c o d e p e n d e n c e " as a n exp lana t ion for personal fail ing to women's social ization. The author cites Krestan a n d Bepko (1990, p.231) w h o descr ibe h o w the c o n c e p t of " c o d e p e n d e n c e " : "b lames peop le , w o m e n in particular, for assuming a soc ia l role that has previously b e e n v i e w e d as normat ive a n d funct ional . It takes wha t was o n c e cons idered healthy, def ining it as sick. In the process it fails to a c k n o w l e d g e that c h a n g e needs to o c c u r a t the level of social belief, att i tude a n d expec ta t ion" (p.49). Perkins (1991) descr ibes this as a process whereby "oppression b e c o m e s psycho log ized as a pa tho log i ca l entity" (p. 326). The "psychologizat ion" of feminism rather than a feminist t reatment of psycho logy has informed m u c h of the discourse, found in literature dea l ing with "women's issues" including disordered eat ing . A cri t ical unders tand ing of the process of "psychologizat ion" exposes l iberal market i deo logy (Berman,1992). In W o m e n a n d Self-Help Cul ture (1992), W e n d y Simonds asserts that: "Self-help books must b e studied as ideo log ica l ly powerfu l instruments of cultural c o m m e r c e that are l inked both with the proliferation of buyab le therapy, in wh ich assistance c o m e s to b e 43 seen as a pu rchasab le commod i ty , a n d with the increasing vo lume of the marke tp lace for leisure consumpt ion" (p.7) This literature, informed by individualism while appropr ia t ing feminist crit iques of g e n d e r social izat ion, nonetheless proposes individual solutions for women 's problems focusing primarily on cogn i t ive c h a n g e s , recogniz ing context only as "a historical b a c k d r o p rather than a cont inuing context for functioning" (Schilling a n d Fuehrer, 1993). Karl Marx's descr ipt ion of the p h e n o m e n o n of "mystif ication" is useful in understanding the b ind w o m e n exper ience in the f a c e of the i d e a that Y o u C a n Hea l Your Life (Hay, 1987). R u g g e d individualism, the bel ief that determinat ion a n d wi l lpower a lone c a n l e a d to heal th, wea l th a n d happiness, contr ibutes to the product ion of d isordered eat ing . This process of "mystification" leads w o m e n to be l ieve that they are at fault for their "failure" to attain the " ideal body", deny ing the reality that diets d o not work. The diet industry after all "thrives on failure" (Gutwill, 1995,p.32) Nesbett 's "set point" theory (as c i ted in Al lan, 1994), b a s e d on extensive research has demons t ra ted that weight is largely p rede te rm ined genet ica l ly a t a g iven "set point", yet this has b e e n ignored. Cont inua l diet ing in fac t lowers the metabol ism rate, lead ing to a n increase in our ability to "stretch" calories over time. Contrary to popu lar beliefs in the inherent perils of "fat", it is cons iderably more dangerous to diet repeated ly than it is to maintain a stable, higher weight b e c a u s e of the constant strain on vital organs such as the heart (Maclnnis, 1993). A n inexhaustible "supply" of g o o d s a n d p rac t i ces a re nonetheless ava i l ab le to mee t the " d e m a n d " to reshape the body . However , as 44 more w o m e n realize the inevi table failure of diets a n d fitness programs, surgically altering their bod ies b e c o m e s "a c h o i c e " . In a recent art ic le in the m a g a z i n e "Elle", Julie Norwich (1995) art iculates the p redominan t belief that "if you c a n fulfill just one of your life's desires, e v e n if it's only a flat s t o m a c h by hav ing a surgical makeover , I say g o for it" (p. 144), The rhetoric of " cho i ce " renders the idea l b o d y neutral, stripping it of bo th contex t a n d mean ing while invoking women 's struggles for reproduct ive rights. As Susan Bordo descr ibes in Unbearab le Weight: Feminism-Western Culture a n d the Body (1993), w o m e n are not e n c o u r a g e d to at ta in just any kind of b o d y but rather a distinctly C a u c a s i a n version of beauty . Wha t is more, she dec lares, the c o n c e p t of surgery as a " cho i ce " e f faces privi lege as at present plastic surgery is still out of r e a c h for m a n y w o m e n . In Reshap ing the Female Bodv: The Di lema of C o s m e t i c Suraerv. Kathy Davies (1995) explores the issues underlying the d e b a t e s within feminism as to how to a p p r o a c h the desire in w o m e n , including feminists, to seek cosmet i c surgery. She descr ibes the points of similarity a n d di f ferences in different t reatment of the issue from feminists who take a s tance that all cosme t i c surgery is a form of v io lence against w o m e n to a n in-depth explorat ion of the speci f ic reasons some feminists be l ieve the issue requires further inquiry. As with a pa tho log ized a c c o u n t of d isordered ea t ing a n d " c o d e p e n d e n c e " , there is a n inherent d a n g e r in see ing w o m e n w h o seek a n d rece ive cosmet i c surgery as "different" from most w o m e n . The Spring a n d Summer flyer for the V a n c o u v e r Schoo l Board's (1996) "Adult Educa t ion Programs" advert ises a course c a l l e d "cosmet i c surgery", where part ic ipants will learn how a n d w h e n cosmet i c surgery is 45 utilized. This serves as a n illustration of the d i l emma of h o w to p r o c e e d in address ing women 's desires to surgically alter their bodies. O n the o n e h a n d , it c o u l d b e a r g u e d that by receiv ing information a b o u t the p rocedures w o m e n will b e a b l e to m a k e more in formed decis ions a b o u t surgery. O n the other h a n d , it c o u l d a p p e a r that surgery of this kind d e s i g n e d to at ta in the " ideal body" closely resembles the psychosexua l surgery of Freud a n d Fleiss carr ied out in order to rid w o m e n of their "hysteria" as desc r i bed by Masson (1986). For con tempo ra ry w o m e n f ac i ng feel ings of depression a n d d isordered eat ing , the resolution of exper iences of distress still lies in altering our bodies, inc luding surgically b e c a u s e "we carry soc ia l relations in our bodies" (Szekely, 1988). Resistance Smail (1993) makes the assertion that "Business must d ispense with truth if it is to avo id limits on its expans ion a n d to b e a b l e ceaselessly to invent n e w needs" (p. 101), Moo re (1992) has desc r i bed h o w con tempora ry Western culture is ruled by the "shadow of money", asserting that "creativity finds its soul w h e n it e m b r a c e s its shadow" (p. 198). A pro found shift in "values" wou ld n e e d to o c c u r if w e are to e m b r a c e our difficulties as our sources of creativity, Marilyn War ing (1995) descr ibes h o w " valore" the origins of the term value, often thought of in relation to e c o n o m i c va lue, speaks of worth. G i v e n the p e r c e n t a g e of w o m e n fac ing anorex ia w h o die of the (dis)order a n d hav ing "lived to tell", I m a k e it my life's "worth" or va lore to d o so. 46 In this undertak ing I a m comfo r ted by .a (her)story of w o m e n w h o h a v e taken a n "outlaw's" s tance (Wooley,1994). Mary Daly (1992) likens her journey to that of a pirate go ing underground to unearth the vast richness of women 's s i lenced a n d stolen know ledge . Aud re Lorde descr ibes such a p l a c e of know ledge d o w n d e e p inside ourselves (1984). Adr ienne Rich (1979) has asserted the n e e d to "tell the truth" stating that: "until w e understand the assumptions in wh ich w e are d r e n c h e d w e c a n n o t know ourselves. A n d this search for sel f -knowledge, for w o m e n is more than a search for identity: it is part of the refusal of the destruct iveness of ma le -dom ina ted society" (p. 35). Virginia Woolf (1944), por t rayed the n e e d to kill "the A n g e l in the House" in order to b e a b l e to write women's lives authentical ly. In telling my story a n d recount ing the stories shared by part ic ipants in this research project, it is my h o p e to cha l l enge wha t Caro lyn Heilbrun (1988) has c a l l e d " female impersonat ion" (p. 12), whereby w o m e n uncrit ical ly a c c e p t constructs such as gentleness a n d selflessness as natural attributes of their g e n d e r . Power a n d resistance are as c o m p l e x a n d multiple as are women 's positions a n d exper iences under patr iarchal authority. In Discipline a n d Punish, M iche l Foucaul t (1979) descr ibes the metaphor ica l "terrain" of the batt le where the points of confrontat ion are innumerable, where oppression a n d resistance o c c u r locally. Foucaul t found unders tanding resistance indispensable to understanding power relations stating that inquiry into resistance would : "bring to light power relations, l oca te their position, find out their point of app l i ca t ion a n d the me thod used. Rather than analyz ing power from the point of v iew of its internal rationality, it consists of analyz ing power relations through an tagon ism of strategies,...forms 47 of resistance a n d at tempts m a d e to d isassociate these relations" (Foucault,1982,p.211 as c i ted in Faith, 1994). From this view, to recognize the forces beh ind the product ion of d isordered ea t ing is to recogn ize the counter forces a l ready subvert ing the (dis)order expressed in d isordered ea t ing . 4.8 Chapter Tour Research (Principles 'Wholeness is no trifling matter. Toni Cade BamSara The ded i ca t i on of this thesis TO ALL THE DOGS WHO HAVE SAVED THE LIVES OF GIRLS AND WOMEN reflects the spirit a n d principles wh ich g u i d e d the craft ing of this work. This research for artifacts of h o p e a n d mean ing in y o u n g women 's feel ings of depression a n d d isordered ea t ing was very m u c h in f luenced by a dec is ion to va lue relationship a n d support. This emphas is on compan ionsh ip a n d my desire to c r e a t e usable know ledge that wou ld benefi t part ic ipants drew my attent ion to the principles of qual i tat ive a n d holistic inquiry, a n d towards the ideals of feminist, reflexive a n d part ic ipatory research. These principles b e c a m e the touchstones of the research process inf luencing both the des ign a n d analysis of the exper ience . Qualitative Research Qual i tat ive research is a n ever evolv ing means of inquiry wh ich has b e e n informed by crit ical a n d feminist theory (Marshall a n d Rossman, 1995). Qual i tat ive inquiry c a n take many different forms such as e thnography wh ich seeks to qualify the values a n d prac t ices of a g iven culture, p h e n o m e n o l o g y wh ich explores the essence or m e a n i n g of expe r i ence or g r o u n d e d theory wh ich explores how m e a n i n g is c r e a t e d by exper iences. Qual i tat ive research questions c a n b e exp lo red by a number of co l lec t ion methods including but not l imited to interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, observing part ic ipants in their natural environments a n d read ing documents . A centra l a s p e c t of all qual i tat ive inquiry is looking at everyday life events from the perspec t ive 49 of l ived exper ience (Field, 1995), In qual i tat ive research, the researcher is of ten a "tool" of the inquiry process a n d the increase in qual i tat ive research has served to highlight e th ica l questions regard ing research a n d the w a y in wh ich w e construct research relationships (Mitchell a n d Radford, 1996). As this thesis will demonstrate, the process of co l lec t ing a n d analyz ing d a t a procurred through qual i tat ive measures illuminates the n e e d to reeva luate our definitions of reliability a n d validity: ref lect ing u p o n wha t is l ea rned from quali fying exper ience rather than "testing" findings in terms of whether they c a n b e genera l ized to other situations. 'Holistic (Research The a d v e n t of a holistic perspect ive of health a n d illness dates b a c k to Cannon ' s work (1929) on the impac t of emotions on the body . While there is no single holistic view, holistic practit ioners h a v e in c o m m o n the v iew that "the mind a n d body, however you see or use their relationship, funct ion as a unit in p roduc ing a n d curing illness" (Weiss Miller, 1995, p.58). As a n illustratration of the range of holistic viewpoints, some researchers d o not necessari ly inc lude or a c k n o w l e d g e spirituality as be ing invo lved in the product ion of health a n d illness while others take the v iew that: "Human beings are a union of mind, body , a n d spirit. Mind, b o d y a n d spirit a re not separa te entities, but an in terdependent who le that must b e in b a l a n c e for healthy human functioning" (Beck, 1996). Holistic perspect ives also share a n interest in the envi ronmental inf luences on heal th a n d d isease wh ich is often referred to as a n e c o l o g i c a l perspect ive (Mishra a n d Waitzkin, 1995). Further to this, holistic health research, while a c k n o w l e d g i n g a mind a n d b o d y c o n n e c t i o n examines 50 how speci f ic var iables inf luence health differently. Mind-Body studies h a v e b e e n crit icized for often not be ing truly holistic but rather: "terribly w e i g h e d towards pure psycho log ica l med ic ine , with far too little considerat ion of social environments, no discussion of e c o n o m i c factors, a n d a p r e o c c u p a t i o n with get t ing p e o p l e to c h a n g e their inner lives as a cure for every ai lment of mind a n d body" (Dreher,1995). In order to avo id repl icat ing this t e n d e n c y towards a reductionist unders tanding of exper ience , this research process sought to m a k e m e a n i n g of women 's bodi ly distress in the context of their o w n lives by situating their stories as part of the larger fabric of social relations. Wha t is more, by consider ing part ic ipants as who le persons, women 's individual stories a n d experient ial know ledge c a m e to b e v i e w e d as authori tat ive a c c o u n t s of both their strengths a n d struggles. feminist 'Research. Feminist research is b a s e d on a set of principles rather than o n e speci f ic me thod , thereby cha l leng ing "method(idolatry)" (Harding, 1989). Feminist research c a n b e better understood as "methods" of inquiry d e s i g n e d to recogn ize the oppressive contexts of women 's lives. Androcen t r i c assumptions regard ing epistemologies remain within m a n y disciplines (Halpern,1994). Feminist research cha l lenges the d i s e m b o d i e d perspect ive of positivist views of the p roduc t ion of k n o w l e d g e (Haraway,1988). E m b o d i e d re-search requires s imul tananeous reflection upon the principles a n d process of the work. Judith C o o k a n d Mary Margare t Fonow ask the quest ion: "Is feminist me thodo logy that which feminists d o or that which they a im for ?" (1990, p. 71). The recogni t ion of subjectivity is a centra l principle of feminist research counter ing the notion of research as value-f ree a n d in so do ing 51 quest ioning "the onto log ica l assumptions of sc ience" (Verthuy, 1982, p. 13). Feminist research wh ich at tends to l anguage , that seeks to n a m e a n d unders tand women 's exper iences of distress without loosing the full p ic ture c a n d e v e l o p non-patho l ig ized a c c o u n t s of girls a n d women 's lives. This research project utilizes feminist theory wh ich is b a s e d in diversity a n d recognizes power as a primary tool of analysis (Brown ,1994b). Feminist research privi leges women 's exper iences a n d p l a c e s k n o w l e d g e of women 's lives a t the center of theory a n d m e t h o d ( Maracek,1989) . Feminist research is a va lue or iented research. That is to say that it both recognizes the va lue of research a n d the values inherent in all forms of research. Harding (1991) asserts that in fac t cer ta in values such as justice or integrity, actual ly e n h a n c e research. Reinhartz (1992) cites research that takes the v iew that all feminist scholarship is necessari ly c o n n e c t e d to ac t ion . Indeed, Eliou (1982) has desc r i bed this process as: "Shaking the certainties of the present a n d prepar ing the g round for investigation of the future lead ing directly to social ac t ion wh ich contributes in turn to the reformulation of social criticism" (160). "Reflexive (Research Reflexivity is used to refer to both the researcher's relationship to the research or "p lacement" , a n d to the researcher's ref lect ion u p o n her/his o w n expe r ience of the process or subjectivity. Reflexivity is cons ide red a n important principle in feminist research (Edwards, 1990). Patti Lather (1991) has p roposed ways in wh ich researchers c a n e n h a n c e reflexivity in p l a c e m e n t a n d transform the relationship b e t w e e n researcher a n d par t ic ipant in the process. She descr ibes how self-disclosure on behal f of 52 the researcher, multiple a n d group interviews a n d sharing interpretation significantly c h a l l e n g e wha t she has referred to as "false consciousness" (1986). Shields a n d Dervin (1993) c i te Rakow's v iew of reflexivity as the "awareness of subjectivities" (1987, p.81). That is to say that w e bring our wor ld view, exper iences, culture, class, g e n d e r a n d sexual or ientat ion or our "standpoint", to the research. Intersubjectivity involves not only the recogni t ion of subjectivities, but a rec ip roca l e x c h a n g e of k n o w l e d g e b e t w e e n the researcher a n d part ic ipants (Shield a n d Dervin, 1993). A n n e O p i e (1992) has raised the potent ia l d a n g e r of "appropr iat ion" of the "other" in co l laborat ive research a n d critiques Patti Lather 's work for its t e n d e n c y towards appropr ia t ion a n d for her v iew that in the e n d part ic ipants views can ' t b e seen as comp le te ly rel iable in as m u c h as they m a y b e too intimately involved with the issues. O p i e views appropr ia t ion within the process of research as inevi table to some d e g r e e , while c la iming that a "qualitative, deconstruct ive, theoret ica l a n d me thodo log i ca l a p p r o a c h with its emphasis on a c lose textual read ing c a n c o u n t e r b a l a n c e (al though by no means el iminate) this inevitability" (1992, p.50). (Participatory Research Part ic ipatory a n d feminist research are c o m p a t i b l e methods of inquiry (Barnsley a n d Ellis, 1992). Both feminist a n d act ion-or iented research involve the "act ivat ion" a n d "conscient izat ion" (Freire, 1970) of part ic ipants, a n d the "demystif ication" (Reinhartz, 1992) of power relations. From this view, part ic ipants are fully involved as co-researchers. 53 The quest ion as to whether or not recupera t ing women 's know ledge constitutes research is a n important o n e to ask. Peter Park asserts the i m p o r t a n c e of know ledge , cas t in the mold of research, the link b e t w e e n wha t is n e e d e d for , a better life a n d wha t has to b e d o n e to attain it is m a d e clearer; k n o w l e d g e b e c o m e s a c ruc ia l e lemen t in enab l i ng p e o p l e o n c e more to h a v e a say in how they wou ld like to see their world put together a n d run (1993, p. l ) . Park explains further that one of the main goals of part ic ipatory research is to e n c o u r a g e a s p a c e in wh ich members of opp ressed groups c a n utilize their intel lectual capac i t i es to envision a n d c rea te a wor ld "free of domina t ion a n d exploitat ion" (1993, p. l5). Through this research project, a g roup of y o u n g w o m e n were asked to envision wha t needs to b e different so that fewer young w o m e n f a c e feelings of depression a n d d isordered ea t ing . Part ic ipatory research has b e e n linked not only to feminist theory but in add i t ion to poststructuralist pract ices involving deconst ruct ion a n d reconstruct ion (Opie,1992). However, the recogni t ion of the partiality of all k n o w l e d g e a n d the relativism of viewpoints c a n b e seen as cont rad ic tory to calls for ac t i on b a s e d u p o n know ledge . In other words, while deconstruct ionism may l ead to emanc ipa to ry thought, it does not necessari ly l e a d to ac t ion of any kind. Feminist theory utilizing poststructuralism encounters the bas ic p rob lem of presupposing a g e n c y a n d c h o i c e . Feminism after all, originates in the project of modernity, a n d as Somer Brodribb has suggested, some poststructuralists in contrast c o n c l u d e "that it doesn't matter, it's just talk" (1992, p. 15). 54 This research looks to the ways in wh ich the goals of poststructrualism a n d feminism are c o m p a t i b l e insofar as both quest ion "metanarrat ives", or "the at t ract ion of d o g m a , the temptat ion of certainty, the urge to control others in their o w n interest" (Leonard, 1994, p. 19). Quest ioning "grand" or "meta" narratives involves deconst ruc t ing soc ia l ly -const ructed ca tegor ies that classify h u m a n beings a n d h u m a n exper iences as if by natural or scientif ic destiny as either/or; ma le or female , b lack or white, heterosexual or homosexua l , heal thy or sick, c o m p e t e n t or d i sab led . Terry Leahy suggests that w e c a n a n d d o possess the c a p a c i t y to c h a n g e our position a n d construct n e w parad igms of understanding: "Individuals c a n also c h o o s e b e t w e e n discourses, c h o o s e f rom a variety of possible subject positions within a part icular discourse, or c r e a t e new subject positions. In mak ing these cho ices , p e o p l e par t ic ipate in the creat ion of new discursive possibilities" (1994,p.51). Burman (1992) asserts that feminists are not simply invested in the taking apar t of exper ience but deconst ruct with a v iew to "putting someth ing in its p l a c e " (p.50). Wha t is more, she views this process as a l lowing "the e lements for a n alternat ive c o n c e p t i o n of subjectivity to emerge"(p.50). The utilization of know ledge is a key e lement of part ic ipatory research. Park suggests that "it is artificial to separate the utilization from the genera t ion of knowledge" (1993, p. 12). 55 Chapter five Research Process 9(aming their pain frees women from unconsciously embodying it. Catherine Steiner-Adair This c h a p t e r presents the steps a n d stages of this process of search ing for m e a n i n g a n d possibility in young women 's feelings of depression a n d d isordered eat ing . The recruitment of part icipants, the purpose of c o n d u c t i n g individual interviews a n d the focus of group meet ings will all b e out l ined. In addi t ion, the group's explorat ion of peer support through Re-eva luat ion Counsel l ing will b e deta i led . Participant's o w n words will serve to highlight themes that reveal the contradict ions inherent in feel ings of depression a n d d isordered ea t ing exper iences. W h a t part ic ipants h a d to say abou t their exper iences also points the w a y to possible solutions to the d i l emma of young women 's bodi ly distress. In addi t ion, my own cont rad ic tory exper ience of the research process will b e discussed in order to critically consider both the possibilities a n d difficulties in forms of inquiry that consider l ived exper ience, a n d seek to c r e a t e usab le know ledge . The structure a n d ordering of this reflection upon the research process illuminates my exper ience of carrying out a research project b a s e d on principles that cha l l enge the purposes a n d mean ing of research. For myself, the researcher, it is as if there were three separa te stages in the research process. The first s tage b e g a n in partial fulfillment of a master of soc ia l work d e g r e e a n d a qual i tat ive research class, whereby I h a d to des ign a n d c o m p l e t e a research project. During this intial s tage, individual interviews a n d initial g roup meet ings were c o n d u c t e d in order 56 to cons ider What Needs to be Different so that Fewer Young Women face Feelings of Depression and Disordered Eating. The s e c o n d s tage o c c u r r e d in response to the wisdom a n d c o n n e c t i o n in the group a n d grew out of consider ing the research quest ion. This s e c o n d s tage was perhaps the most difficult. O n the one hand , I felt inspired by part ic ipants' k n o w l e d g e a n d honesty, a n d exc i ted by the possibilities of reflexive, part ic ipant-dr iven research. At this point, I found myself reconsider ing wha t ac t ion- research involved; the a c t of w o m e n telling our stories, our exper iences of distress was ac t ion in itself. O n the other hand , I felt as if I h a d s t e p p e d into a postmodern/post feminist gray zone, where noth ing was certa in, a n d everything must unravel before it c a n tang le itself into knots of know ledge that I must somehow translate to written form I The third s tage I understand as the process of d o c u m e n t i n g this exper ience , This represents the third "draft" of my thesis a n d I be l ieve it is essential to consider the s p a c e n e e d e d to al low for sufficient ref lection to foster research that offers mean ing , h o p e a n d c a n actual ly benef i t part ic ipants a n d researchers. W h e n I shared my impression with part icipants, that there were different stages in the research process, a number re f lected that their primary expe r i ence of the process was one of "connection". They d e s c r i b e d how by sharing their exper iences in response to the research quest ion, they were a b l e in o n e woman 's words "to connect and feel real respect for each other's stories and strengths" a n d for another par t ic ipant the process a l l owed her to "find friends in this issue". O n e part ic ipant thought that this might b e "what's different about feminist research, that you don't want to misrepresent what people say and you want to help them deal 57 with their problems, help them feel what seems disordered on the inside is really a reflection of a disordered world". Yet another par t ic ipant w o n d e r e d whether this really is research, reflecting further the "difference" of feminist research, questioning "how would you know if it is and how would you know if it isn't". My sense of this process be ing a multi-step venture illustrates a number of questions regard ing wha t is different abou t quali tat ive, feminist a n d part ic ipatory research. Conce rns regard ing the relationships b e t w e e n researcher a n d part ic ipants inc lude issues surrounding dea l ing with a n d responding to painful or deep l y felt exper ience, whether the researcher is "part of the group", a n d di f ferences in terms of whose interest does the research serve. To illustrate, this research project will e n a b l e m e to rece ive a g radua te deg ree , wha t will part ic ipants h a v e rece i ved ? Also this thesis is "storied" in the first person a n d while part ic ipants' words a re i nc luded they are nonetheless f ramed from my o w n standpoint . Further considerat ions for these newly emerg ing research methods are matters of t ime a n d support. Par t ic ipant-d i rected a n d reflexive, feminist- informed research requires sufficient t ime in order to honor the investment of both part ic ipants a n d researchers in terms of the t ime they m a y require to consider wha t they want to d o in a co l laborat ive manner. As a student researcher in this process, I often felt "out on a limb", a lone a n d const ra ined by the n e e d to write abou t this exper ience in a form that meets a c a d e m i c standards. A l though I have b e e n very lucky to h a v e a n advisor that supports this type of research, it has b e e n difficult to put in written form "what really h a p p e n e d " while dec ipher ing whether the 58 "da ta " were m e a n t to m e a n part ic ipants' spoken or written words, the group process or my o w n reflexive writing or all of the a b o v e . (Participants This research c a n not b e desc r ibed as "research by invitation", in the sense that I h a v e not b e e n a p p r o a c h e d by a group of y o u n g w o m e n to b e c o m e invo lved with a project they h a v e des igned . At the s a m e time, I d o feel that it is part ic ipant-dr iven insofar as I a m search ing a n d re-search ing young women 's know ledge as a tribute to my o w n exper iences as a y o u n g w o m a n a d e c a d e a g o w h e n I f a c e d feel ings of depress ion a n d d isordered ea t ing . A samp le of six w o m e n who self-identified themselves as hav ing f a c e d feel ings of depression a n d d isordered ea t ing responded to not ices request ing part ic ipants pos ted at the University of British C o l u m b i a a n d distributed to therapists in the disordered ea t ing commun i ty (See A p p e n d i x B). W o m e n w h o were interested in the project en te red into c o n t a c t with me first by te lephone. The recruiting process in obta in ing part ic ipants involved carefu l considerat ion of the inclusion/exclusion criteria. Impor tance was g iven to the wording of the not ice requesting the input of Young Women Who have Faced Feelings of Depression and Disordered Eating a n d in discussing part ic ipants' c o n c e r n that they might not mee t the criteria on the te lephone a n d in individual interviews. The dec is ion to request that part icipants feel free to par t ic ipate if someth ing in the not ice spoke to them ref lec ted my h o p e to c h a l l e n g e as out l ined in my literature review, the constructions of "depression", a n d "eat ing disorders" as distinct exper iences. Five of the six w o m e n 59 individually in terv iewed a t t e n d e d group meet ings; o n e w o m a n was of fered emp loymen t outside of the lower ma in land a n d was unab le to part ic ipate further. Part ic ipants were asked how they wou ld like to b e presented or in t roduced in this d o c u m e n t a n d I have purposefully c h o s e n to use only their o w n words in order to l oca te them in terms of issues of identity a n d / o r expe r i ence such as class, race , a g e , sexual or ientat ion, e d u ca t i ona l backg round , e . t . c . I m a d e this dec is ion as I felt it was important that part ic ipants b e g iven the opportunity to "vo ice" a n d l a n g u a g e their o w n identities b a s e d upon their o w n subjectivity rather than u p o n social ly const ruc ted definitions or ca tegor ies of identity a n d / o r exper ience . Four of the five w o m e n of fered the fol lowing in writing: O n e part ic ipant h a d this to say: / am twenty one years old. I go to University, I worf^ I Have a loving family and caring friends and a distorted body image. Since I was a little girl I learned to equate the way my body looked to my own Happiness as a person. "If only I could be thinner - then everything would be okay...", for years I suffered low self-esteem, even when I was over-achieving to the high recognition of family and peers in my community. M last I snapped under the pressure and I turned my self-bathing onto my poor guiltless body. I became severely bulimic and for three years lived and breathed a cycle of dangerous and destructive binge/purge behavior. Today I have not forced myself to purge in over two years. I have only recently begun to learn how to let people and friends backjnto my life, and I am slowly still learning how to love and respect myself. I still suffer from a negative body image, and I suffer from pushing away those I care about in order to protect my "unworthy" self from being revealed. (But I am getting better - with hard work, perseverance, positive thinking and plenty of frustration. I will win, and I will have my body back. Of that I am confident. 60 Another par t ic ipant descr ibed herself this way: My name is Michelle and I'm 28 years old. I've been wrestling with food issues and weight since puberty. I've put much time and effort into this relationship and feel nearly done with it. Struggles to deal with my fears around loosing weight and being thin led me into longterm therapy and eventually "Women's Studies. I have a (B.A. in "Philosophy from The University of Alberta, A M (Phil, in "Women's Studies from Trinity College in "Dublin and am working towards my "Ph(D. in (Philosophy as a feminist scholar at I'Universite de Laval in Quebec City. It was in "Women's Studies where my interests in psychology, my personal history and theory could meet, and the three have mutually strengthened each other. "While my 'relationship' with food isn't quite resolved to a point where I want it to be yet, I am very happy in life and with my life. I see thousands of opportunities around me and believe in my strength and courage to follow through on some of them. I continue to fight for the feminist cause and believe I am a role model to other women. O n e w o m a n shared this abou t herself: My name is Amy. I am a young woman studying "Women's Studies and "Religion and Literature for my bachelor of Arts at U"BC. I am a feminist who e?(periences depression and disordered eating. My issues with eating are rooted in my struggle for subjectivity, my family dynamics, and my social situation as a woman in our patriarchal culture. I use feminism to combat depression and disordered eating while challenging masculinist assumptions about the beauty myth. Another part ic ipant offered this: I'm twenty four. I've been a student for a very long time and I hate U(BC ! I'm Chinese-Canadian. I really want to give a sense that I love life, I think it's absolutely beautiful and wonderful, I love literature, food and people, I love the drama in Soap Operas. I watch general (Hospital and lately I have been watching All my Children. I want you to know, I'm really fully aware of the richness of life. I love water, I love dancing especially ball-room, I love music and storytelling. I love the precision of things, like chess and cards games and the reason and I say this as a prelude is that I am very angry, and it's important that I express, because people just think. Tm resentful and that I hate people. All the things I love, all these things are ruined because a lot of life is steeped in violence. Another thing that I find difficult Because the more rigorous I get in pointing out what happens on a daily basis, I am labeled as paranoid, a conspiracy theorist and as a special interest group, a reductionist view of me. I want an overall view to incorporate the details. "When I point out what 61 Happens a on a daiCy Basis it makes it seem as if I am focused on the negative. If we had an ethic of care a tot of these things wouldn't happen. (<BLA(NX-, MySTITICATlOOt CONCEALS A LOT'OT VIOLENCE... IT MAXES IT LOOXLIRE WERT, ALL 09{T}{E SAME LEVEL fP{LA(yi9{Cj TIELV) Individual Interviews My interview gu ide for the initial interview was intentional on two accoun ts , First, I w a n t e d to find out more abou t women's mot ivat ion in b e c o m i n g involved, I w o n d e r e d wha t desires, motivations, d reams, fears a n d other exper iences ignited their dec is ion to par t ic ipate in the project. Secondly , I w a n t e d to insure that I was a w a r e of any conce rns w o m e n h a d a b o u t b e c o m i n g involved in the project in order to prov ide a safe p l a c e for w o m e n to consider their exper iences, Part icipants shared that their primary motivat ion for b e c o m i n g involved in the project was the desire to find out more abou t themselves a n d as illustrated in the words of one w o m a n : "to deal with these issues I've thought a lot about on my own, in my head". A number of w o m e n d e s c r i b e d how feelings of depression a n d d isordered ea t ing were rarely d iscussed outside of c lose friendships if at all, while a number h a d never d iscussed "this knowledge that has no where to go". All of the w o m e n shared that they w a n t e d to find out more abou t how to help friends or family members who are also struggling with these issues, a n d one par t ic ipant shared that she w a n t e d to b e c o m e involved "to help other women, even if it is only one woman who is helped by this". Another part ic ipant shared that her mother a n d sister also struggle with the issues, that she wonders "if maybe all women do kind of face 62 depression and disordered eating". Part icipants' motivat ions in b e c o m i n g invo lved reveal both the isolation a n d pa radoxes w o m e n f a c e a round feelings of depression a n d disordered ea t ing ; while they rarely speak a b o u t their exper iences, they are nonetheless a w a r e that a great m a n y other w o m e n struggle with the same feelings. A n interest in research was expressed by several of the w o m e n , some of w h o m h a d par t i c ipa ted in or car r ied out research previously. A n expressed desire to find out more a b o u t wha t c o u l d b e d o n e a b o u t d isordered eat ing a n d the wish to contr ibute to research with a v iew to help ing other w o m e n was stated by all part ic ipants. Conce rns a b o u t whether they "fit" the criteria or whether they c o u l d contr ibute someth ing to the process were also shared. The successful venture of bringing together w o m e n who might otherwise h a v e b e e n d i v ided by ca tegor ies a n d labels of "pathology" is important for a number of reasons. O n the one hand , it serves to cha l l enge socia l work group d y n a m i c suppositions that d i f ference c a n b e inherently p rob lemat ic . This suggests instead that di f ference, if decons t ruc ted a n d reconstructed, offers imporant clues to the w a y that "othering" by refusing to a c k n o w l d g e the va lue of d i f ference leads to oppres ive exper iences in the first p l a c e . What is more, this way of inviting differently p l a c e d w o m e n a l o n g the cont inuum of feelings of depression a n d d isordered ea t ing to d ia logue brings to quest ion the m e d i c a l m o d e l of "eat ing disorders", that views w o m e n stepping out of their ca tegor ies as dange rous b e c a u s e w o m e n w h o d o not a p p e a r as "symptomat ic " will learn more a b o u t diet ing or purging techn iques a n d b e c o m e sicker. This g roup in contrast a l lowed w o m e n to c la im their authority a n d 63 expertise on their own exper iences. This has further impl icat ions for research a n d p rac t i ce as it has b e e n my exper ience in support ing w o m e n that most services for w o m e n fac ing d isordered ea t ing treat "anorexics", "bulimics" a n d "compuls ive eaters" very differently, a n d menta l heal th practit ioners who inter face with w o m e n fac ing depression of ten d o not inquire abou t d isordered eat ing . In the individual interviews, a number of part ic ipants expressed their conce rns that they "might not know enough" or wou ld not b e struggling with the issues to the same d e g r e e as others a n d therefore might not b e ab le to contr ibute to the project. In response to this c o n c e r n , I shared that I felt that there was a great d e a l of material regard ing "so c a l l e d experts" opinions, but that wha t I really w a n t e d to know more a b o u t was wha t w o m e n themselves thought a n d felt abou t feelings of depression a n d d isordered eat ing. O n e part ic ipant shared that she w a n t e d to b e c o m e involved with the project b e c a u s e she w a n t e d to find a p l a c e where she c o u l d explore the issues but still feel unders tood as a who le person rather than seen "as a person with problems". This gesture towards p lac ing part ic ipants as experts was in tended to beg in to suggest subjectivity as authoritative. In retrospect, the decis ion to not e x c l u d e w o m e n a c c o r d i n g to p redetermined criteria regard ing wha t constitutes "depression" a n d subcategor ies of "eat ing disorders" led w a y to the discovery that despi te hav ing expe r i enced very different aspec ts of feel ings of depression a n d disordered eat ing, the w o m e n found they h a d m u c h in c o m m o n . 64 In the individual interviews, I suggested that part ic ipatory ac t ion research c a n take p l a c e in a group a n d I asked part ic ipants to share previous exper iences in groups, wha t h a d worked for them a n d wha t they wish h a d b e e n different. Previous exper iences in groups ranging from therapy to support groups revea led that w o m e n felt comfo r tab le with the i d e a of meet ing in a group of other w o m e n . Two part ic ipants h a d never b e e n involved in groups b e c a u s e they felt they h a d never found o n e that they thought wou ld mee t their needs. O n e par t ic ipant shared that "no one talks about women who eat to comfort their feelings but don't diet". This may reflect the disordered eat ing communi ty wh ich has b e e n slow to prov ide support for non- purg ing compuls ive ea t ing d u e perhaps to fat phob ia . Conce rns abou t a c c e p t i n g di f ferences, listening to e a c h other, ce lebra t ing our h o p e a n d c o u r a g e a n d not just sharing pa in were expressed. It was suggested by another par t ic ipant that the a m o u n t of energy invested in dea l ing with d isordered eat ing if otherwise c h a n n e l e d , "could change the world". Initial Group Meetings Al though information ga thered in the individual interviews was helpful for me in my role as a facilitator, I des igned the first group so that w o m e n c o u l d h a v e the opportunity of sharing their expecta t ions a n d hopes for the project with e a c h other. The first group meet ing was also used as a n opportunity to put forth ground rules for commun ica t i ng in the group. The g roup sugges ted that w e "have the right to pass or leave the room", "that sharing feelings and emotional reactions was o.k.", a n d that b e c a u s e "talking about food or dieting was really an entry point into talking about ourselves", w e wou ld e n c o u r a g e e a c h other to ge t there 65 either way, by talking abou t ourselves directly or our feelings a b o u t f o o d a n d b o d y i m a g e first. A round of part ic ipants sharing their exper iences of feelings of depression a n d d isordered ea t ing was sugges ted by myself as a beg inn ing point. From the first part icipant's story to the last woman 's tale, i found myself extremely m o v e d by the c o u r a g e a n d generosity par t ic ipants revea led in sharing their stories with honesty a n d emot ion. I found myself wishing only to listen a n d not intervene. I found myself in a w e of the wisdom of the women's knowledge that something was not right in their lives a n d that this "knowing" was what brought them to feelings of depress ion a n d d isordered ea t ing . The first par t ic ipant desc r ibed her exper iences that b e g a n a round the a g e eight this way : "The world was spinning and I needed something to cling to. The food was always there and that kept me stable. When I can't get to food, I get scared. When I think about giving up eating, there's some underlying stuff that just terrifies me. Until I find a safe place, until I do, I don't know that I'm prepared to give it up. Everyone I knew when I was that age had problems with body image and I had a problem, and I thought they were being helpful when they suggested I watch what I eat. Instead of saying, you need a hand, everyone pulled back because it reminded them of what they were dealing with. It was really hard, it was as if the whole world disappeared, it was as if the world's oppression of fat people came down on me and people just tried to tease or cajole me out of it". Another w o m a n shared her exper ience : "Around grade five, I started thinking that I didn't want to be female. I got my period and I was really angry, I didn't want my body to develop. I decided I would not be a girl. I had been really chubby when I was really little before I and I was happy like that. My parents were all happy and I was like, what ? I was really pissed off. Feminine was equal with powerless and I wasn't going 66 to be that. I focused on not eating, two thousand sit ups a day things like that all the time in my mind, all day. I lost a lot of weight, my body, it was so hard, no one knew. I've gained twenty pounds and I'm really proud and it's been really hard". O n e part ic ipant h a d this to say: "Yeah it was also around grade five that I remember. I was just a kid, You're supposed to be out playing and I was worried about being fat, my body image. I don't know what my patterns were, the depression was already there. I don't know. I can't imagine any woman having normal eating because you're obsessed, it's everywhere you go. Everyone says I'm too fat. Do you want to hear what I ate today ? Everyone talks about what they eat all the time. I came from a traditional Asian background and I remember my mother hitting the roof when I got my period because her big thing was if you get your period early you're a bad girl. She didn't get her period until she was about eighteen and when I think about it, she was probably starved growing up in a village in China and that's probably why her period was so late." Another part ic ipant shared her story: "Well it was about grade four. I was in French immersion and my mother tells me that I had a teacher in grade two or three and she used to treat me because I'm Jewish and this little black boy really really badly and parents had to come to the school and sit in the class to stop it. I don't remember anything. After this happened I changed schools. I began to eat, to look to food as my main source of comfort because I was not getting any from my parents and I was unhappy at school. I didn't feel part of the group. One day a friend came up to me and said you got really fat after you changed schools. And that was it. I realized I had gotten fat. I felt so angry and ashamed, it was as if now I was a different person". O n e w o m a n told of her exper iences : "I was a pretty normal child. I didn't eat much when I was very little, but then I met a friend and she had this great metabolism and she could eat anything and soon I was gaining all this weight. We would eat all this junk. We did lots of things together, going to movies and all that. I was really content to be alone, I was really old for my age but she wanted friends so she started doings things to me to make friends, to be included and I had a hard time. She had lots of problems. I started eating more when I was alone. I started sneaking in junk food because my father used a Welsh word for junk when he saw me and my mother's comments on my weight all the time really hurt me too." 67 What is so striking in part icipants' stories is how their feelings of depression a n d d isordered eat ing both reflect a n d b e c o m e a w a y of c o p i n g with the pa in of oppression. The c o n s e q u e n c e s of "othering", the "either or w a y of thinking, the underpinnings of all systems of dominat ion" (hooks, 1989, 91), are expressed in these feelings of bodi ly distress. That is to say that the i m p a c t of constructs of "di f ference" on women's subjectivity, whether they b e in terms of weight or b o d y metabol ism, cultural or religious her i tage or gender , b e c o m e e m b e d d e d in their relationship with their bodies. Becky Thompson's research with Latina, Af r ican-A m e r i c a n a n d lesbian w o m e n who h a v e f a c e d d isordered ea t ing reveals how women 's subjectivity is "storied" from their painful exper iences of fac ing , cha l leng ing a n d c o p i n g with racism, sexism, heterosexism a n d classism (1994). Part icipants' descript ions ref lect h o w w o m e n seek so l ace a n d reprieve from this pa in through their relationship with f ood ; by eat ing for comfort, or by controll ing their intake of f ood . The mystif ication that surrounds diet ing, the belief that will power a lone d ic tates weight a n d happiness, a n d the difficulty for adults to emot ional ly support chi ldren who mirror their own struggles with weightism are also illustrated in these women 's l ived exper ience . At the c lose of the first group meet ing, part icipants expressed their feelings of hav ing benef i ted from the opportunity of sharing their exper iences in a support ive envi ronment a n d that they h a d g a i n e d insight into their exper iences of feelings of depression a n d d isordered eat ing . The process of app ly ing feminist a n d part ic ipatory principles to the research process required ongo ing eva luat ion a n d analysis within the group structure, where part icipants were asked to share wha t they 68 l iked a n d d id not like abou t the meet ing at the e n d of e a c h group. In turn, e a c h par t ic ipant shared wha t she a p p r e c i a t e d : "each other's strength", "the power of this group of women", "the honesty of feelings of pain"," the knowledge that I didn't have to be doing anything else", "just each other's openness". Three of the w o m e n desc r i bed wishing that "there had been more time", while one w o m a n wou ld h a v e l iked "more clarification about knowing whether we were doing a round or freely discussing", a n d one part ic ipant cou ld not "come up with anything I didn't like". These reflections led to the decis ion to try to hold longer meet ings a n d use "Rounds" as a "Check- in " only, a n d genera l discussion a t all other times. Butler a n d Wintram (1991) descr ibe how reflexivity in feminist groupwork c a n o c c u r in a myr iad of ways. P lac ing ourselves a n d re-p lac ing ourselves as w o m e n to other w o m e n a n d as socia l workers working within a n e c o n o m i c system with clients very m u c h i m p a c t e d by that system is a n integral part-of their notion of self-reflective p rac t i ce . They c i te research that suggests "exper ience" as a primary med ia t ing text in socia l relations. Similarly, Kirby a n d M c k e n n a (1989) refer to the impor tance of understanding "voices in context". Med ia t ing vo ices involves recogniz ing how researchers a n d part ic ipants may differ in their vo ices insofar as the researchers' a g e n d a is of ten d i rec ted by their " c o n c e p t u a l b a g g a g e " a n d desire to link wha t emerges in the process to other theories or forms of research or ac t ion "while part ic ipants m a y b e interested in descr ib ing or explain ing their exper iences to the researcher, there may b e no cor responding willingness or sense of ob l iga t ion to b e c o m e a n ac t i ve seeker of soc ia l c h a n g e " (p. 162). 69 G i v e n my enthusiasm around facil i tat ing the involvement of youth a n d w o m e n in research a n d social c h a n g e , it has b e e n cruc ia l that I b e a w a r e of the potent ia l to overr ide part ic ipants vo ices that just wan t to b e heard . My initial desire to see ac t i on e m e r g e from the group has t ransformed to a p l a c e of a t tend ing to the profound mean ing of sharing feel ings of depression a n d d isordered eat ing . 'Re-evaluation Counselling: Exploring Peer Support As the group con t inued to meet , a part ic ipant who has b e e n invo lved with another form of peer support, Re-eva luat ion Counsel l ing, was asked by the group to faci l i tate a workshop on the mode l . This par t ic ipant h a d shared that she h a d found Re-evaluat ion Cousel l ing helpful a n d felt it was relevant to our group as a m o d e of self-help that recognizes how "personal problems" reflect soc ia l construct ions of pe rsonhood , as well as gender , r ace , class a n d sexual or ientat ion oppression. Based on Harvey Jackin 's theories, the a p p r o a c h presents a n ant i -oppression, non-professional means of providing mutual support. The m e t h o d consists of two person taking turns counsel l ing e a c h other by looking to disrupt patterns that are prevent ing the person from feel ing l iberated. This is similar to M i c h a e l White's work where he looks for "unique outcomes" , stories of d i f ference that disrupt a problem-stor ied life. Re-eva luat ion Counsel l ing also proposes ways w e c a n d ischarge emot ions that are reac t i va ted by new situations or exper iences through laughing, crying, yawn ing or shaking. Re-eva luat ion Counsel l ing asserts that humans are born heal thy a n d g o o d a n d seeks to f ind ways of reconnec t i ng p e o p l e to that vision of themselves. In the words of one part ic ipant, "it's hard to get into and 70 believe after all these years of feeling you are not o.k.", while another has shared, "it sounds so simple, its just commonsense yet so hokey". At the same time, part icipants shared that they benef i ted from this workshop in that they were ab le to look at self-perceptions that d o not descr ibe their real potent ia l , as "maybe a way of releasing thoughts and feelings that hold you back". Another par t ic ipant desc r ibed how "this might help my mother and a lot of other people too, who have faced abuse". A further techn ique of Re-evaluat ion Counsel l ing involves cha l leng ing oppressive labels. The part ic ipant who fac i l i ta ted the workshop g a v e the e x a m p l e of a Jewish Feminist invo lved in Re-eva lua t ion Counsel l ing. While descr ib ing her identity on a pane l , she turned to o n e of the other speakers who raised issues a round her be ing Jewish, a n d said: "I'm not the Jew, you are a n d I'm go ing to m a k e you feel wha t it's like to b e a Jew; I'll tell you what you are....You're the o n e w h o is...". In turn, the other speaker responds by saying: "You'd d o that to me, you 'd m a k e m e feel...?". This d ia logue disrupts a n d deconst ructs discourse regard ing identity a n d oppressive stereotypes while hav ing the pa in of the oppression mirrored back . Re-eva luat ion Counsel l ing strategies a p p e a r congruen t with a number of the principles of this research project a n d it cou ld offer means of peer support in the a r e a of young women 's feelings of depression a n d disordered eat ing. In a culture in wh ich w e construct mean ing through individual narratives, individual support that nonetheless integrates awareness of the socia l construct ion of exper ience c o u l d b e another route into c h a n g e a n d wholeness. 71 Analysis As J a n Barnsley a n d D iana Ellis have out l ined in their gu ide "Research For C h a n g e : Part ic ipatory Ac t i on Research for Commun i t y Groups" the process of analysis involves: "bringing order to the d a t a , organizing wha t is there into patterns, ca tegor ies or bas ic units. Interpretation involves a t tach ing a m e a n i n g a n d s igni f icance to the analysis, explain ing descr ipt ive patterns, a n d looking for relationships a n d l inkages a m o n g the descriptions "(1992, p.59). While this seems straight forward enough , Sampson (1993) has desc r i bed h o w the construct ion of ca tegor ies or categor izat ion often serves the purposes of dominan t groups. The information that has b e e n ga the red in the course of this research has b e e n ana lyzed with this crit ique in mind. In keep ing with qual i tat ive principles that emphas ize "col lect ing information in a holistic manner abou t human beings" (Hayes, 1989, p.39), a holistic v iew of the research requires taking a holistic v iew of part icipants, their exper iences, thoughts a n d feelings. It c a n also involve dea l i ng with m a n y aspec ts of the process simultaneously where ref lect ion moves into ac t ion a n d b a c k into reflection. During the initial interview, I shared this intent with part icipants so that they cou ld beg in to reflect upon this process. In order to r e a c h this e n d of providing a "whole view" of part ic ipants, I h a v e incorpora ted women 's o w n words by asking t hem to write a p i e c e saying something abou t themselves a n d their reflections on the process. I also utilized what G u b a a n d Lincoln (1985) descr ibe as a "member c h e c k " where part ic ipants are g iven cop ies of written findings. In addi t ion, I suggested that part icipants keep a journal of their exper iences as w e h a v e con t inued to meet . Because this research was carr ied out in partial fulfillment of a pract ice/thesis, this d o c u m e n t does not fully reflect the co l laborat ive spirit of the project, a n d therefore the 72 group has discussed publishing a report at a later d a t e in multiple authorship. O p i e descr ibes the process of "textual analysis" (1992, p.37), where the researcher b e c o m e s involved in a fluid process of deconst ruc t ing the ideo logy of the text, her o w n locat ion a n d her p rac t i ce . This thesis stands as a n art iculat ion of the tension I expe r i enced in a t tempt ing to carry out this kind of reflexive analysis. Ultimately I found myself more comfo r tab le present ing my o w n subject ive exper ience of the journey of reflexive, part ic ipatory research, As will b e ev ident in the emergen t themes desc r i bed in the next sect ion, there are missing p ieces to this story; in the hopes that w e will co-author another d o c u m e n t wh ich will honor the powerful ly reveal ing v o i c e of e a c h part ic ipant, a consc ious dec is ion was m a d e to not focus my analysis on what part ic ipants h a d to say a n d wha t occu r red within the group. This may frustrate readers w h o with g o o d reason were ant ic ipat ing d a t a or "results" b a s e d upon the research. Wha t this work offers instead is a portrait of my own struggle with issues of power that arise in all relationships; in research relationships in particular, the appropr ia t ion of part ic ipants' know ledge a n d exper ience , is of ten invisible in written documents . The missing p ieces in this "text" therefore serve to deconst ruc t this appropr ia t ion a n d render visible my c h o i c e to respec t a c o m m i t m e n t m a d e to a co l labora t i ve process, The "text" of this research, I v i ewed as further including the v ideo a n d aud io recordings, transcriptions of interviews a n d group meet ings a n d notes on my react ions as well as written material shared by part ic ipants. Shields a n d Dervin state the only rule in co l laborat ive research analysis is 73 that it "reflect the l a n g u a g e of the p e o p l e who were studied a n d that the written l a n g u a g e of the researcher b e r e a d a b l e a n d usable" (1993, p.70). Furthermore, they assert the impor tance of written documen ts for the purposes of conscient izat ion, where a c a d e m i c reports are seen as be ing of seconda ry impor tance . C h a m b e r l a i n (1990) has asked the quest ion: "Is l iteracy, a n d the written word a tool for dominat ion ?" (1990, p.42) a n d suggests co-author ing documen ts such as notes, a n d v ideo a n d aud io tapes as alternat ive pract ices. Towards this purpose, v i deo a n d a u d i o - t a p e d interviews a n d group meet ings h a v e b e e n distr ibuted to part ic ipants who ind ica ted a n interest in v iewing the exper ience . Ulmer (1989) has p r o p o s e d the not ion of "oralysis" desc r i bed as the "ways in wh ich oral forms, der ived from everyday life, are, with the record ing power of v ideo , app l i ed to the analyt ic tasks assoc ia ted with literate forms" (p.xi). G i v e n the increasing impor tance of visual m e d i a in our lives, this form of documen ta t i on renders the "text" more powerful . Sandra Kirby a n d Kate M c K e n n a suggest that "talk is serious" (1989, p!20). They outline the impor tance of noting a n d at tending to information a n d d a t a in a multitude of locations. Listening to "the content" of part ic ipants' talk in individual interviews or in group meet ings was a u g m e n t e d by a t tend ing to how this "content" was re layed. O p i e (1992) descr ibes the impo r tance of examin ing "paradoxes, cont rad ic t ions a n d ephemera l i ty " in l a n g u a g e (p.39). She also descr ibes the r e l e v a n c e of vo i ce in terms of intensity, emot ional con ten t or c u e a n d w h e n a speaker uses c o m p l e t e or i ncomp le te sentences. A n analysis of my o w n s p e e c h as well as "the talk" of part ic ipants has b e e n utilized as a f ramework for reflection. 74 During the process of transcribing the first three individual interviews, I b e c a m e a w a r e of h o w m u c h I was involved in discussions a round research a n d the m e a n i n g of d isordered ea t ing in women 's lives. A l though it m a y b e p red ic tab le that nervousness wou ld c a u s e m e to speak more, it is my impression that it was my level of comfor t with w o m e n with similar exper iences m a y h a v e led me to share more of my exper iences. A l though I a m comp le te l y comfor tab le with responding to part ic ipants ' questions regard ing my .cho ice of part ic ipatory research or why I d e c i d e d on a project involving feelings of depression a n d d isordered eat ing, I felt it wou ld b e important to insure that I "get out of the way" in the group meetings. Shields a n d Dervin (1993), in their discussion of this issue outline the impor tance not only for the researcher to remove themselves from the part icipant's story but also to a t tend to d i f ferences a n d gaps . Their m e t h o d of "sense-making" enab les part ic ipants themselves to reconstruct their exper iences a n d unders tand g a p s a n d br idges in their understanding. This was a c c o m p l i s h e d by cont inual ly ref lect ing b a c k my assumptions or the mean ing I was mak ing of wha t part ic ipants were saying. This focus on listening for "dif ference" during group meetings, while wa t ch ing v ideo tapes a n d read ing transcriptions was important for the research process on a number of accoun ts . In the first instance, a l lowing d i f ference a n d g a p s to e m e r g e led to further questions a b o u t h o w these di f ferences such as culture, a g e a n d class intersected with part ic ipant 's exper iences of d isordered eat ing, mov ing from wha t Shields a n d Dervin refer to as moving from the "whats" to the "hows" 75 (1993, p. 74). Secondly , it permi ted mean ing to e m e r g e through a perspec t i ve wh ich understands that all exper ience moves through t ime a n d s p a c e , a l lowing for pa radoxes a n d c h a n g e s to b e no ted . Interestingly, this focus on at tending to d i f ference appea rs to m e to b e all the more relevant to research a round feelings of depression a n d d isordered ea t ing . The di f ferences b e t w e e n expec ta t ions a n d exper iences, such as wha t it means to b e girls a n d w o m e n in con tempora ry Western culture a n d how girls a n d w o m e n wou ld like their lives to be , the g a p s b e t w e e n b o d y ideals a n d women 's subjectivity with regards to b o d y image , the di f ferences b e t w e e n family expec ta t ions regard ing girls a n d women 's behav io r a n d soc ia l imperat ives m a y all b e re f lec ted in feelings of depression a n d d isordered ea t ing . Tmercjent Thxmes In listening to w o m e n reconstruct, "make sense" of their stories, the journey towards restoration begins. From what w o m e n tell of their lives, it is i n d e e d "the girl within" that struggles against conf ining definitions of her subjectivity, Emily H a n c o c k suggests that w e h a v e in the exper iences of p repubescen t girls, material that o n c e unear thed, leads towards the restoration of women's true identities (1989). She asserts that w e c a n d raw a picture of a woman 's true self from a point in t ime w h e n she was "least de f ined by patr iarchy" (1989, p.9). Caro l Gi l l igan (1991) dep ic ts how girls during this short s tage, e m b o d y androgynous potent ia l a n d form al l iances with their fathers that unravel at puberty d u e to binary gende r roles. The resounding answer to the quest ion of What Needs to be Different So that Fewer Young Women Face Feelings of Depression and 76 Disordered Eating: w e n e e d to c h a n g e a culture that m a k e girls not wan t to grow into w o m e n . Themes wh ich h a v e e m e r g e d out of the group reflect the many ways in wh i ch exper iences of d isordered ea t ing intersect with women 's mult iple positions a n d roles. Conce rns a round weight p r e o c c u p a t i o n a p p e a r to beg in a round the a g e of eight or nine years o ld or with the discovery of be ing different or fall ing short from expectat ions with regards to b o d y weight, beau ty or eat ing patterns. The issue of the "onset of menstruation" was raised as important to part ic ipants exper ience of themselves. Some part ic ipants desc r i bed exper ienc ing distress a round cultural s ign i f icance of early onset, such as be ing a " b a d girl", or al ternately be ing e q u a t e d in some instances as a sign of the greatness of b e c o m i n g a w o m a n . O n e par t ic ipant shared her bewi lderment at how her parents cou ld feel this was something to ce leb ra te . Other part ic ipants expressed a sense of abnormal i ty w h e n their per iods b e g a n too early or too late. A genera l sense of not be ing informed a b o u t c o m m o n bodi ly processes also i m p a c t e d part ic ipants ' exper iences of bodi ly c h a n g e s at puberty. Zerbe (1993, p. 181) asserts that the "booming business" of menstruat ion-related products a n d mixed messages regard ing y o u n g women 's sexuality render the onset of menstruation a conf l ictual o c c u r e n c e for w o m e n in North A m e r i c a n culture. Sexuality a n d be ing vulnerable were also areas of discussion that e m e r g e d . Being constant ly a w a r e of, submitting to a n d resisting in o n e part ic ipant 's words, "the male gaze", whe reby w o m e n felt sexual ized 77 was shared by all w o m e n . What is interesting here is that sexual assault in ch i l dhood or as a n adul t is often cor re la ted with d isordered eat ing, as if girls a n d w o m e n are only i m p a c t e d by overt behav io r or violent sexual assaults. Participants' react ions to the ways in wh ich girls a n d w o m e n are sexual ized di f fered a great d e a l , where some w o m e n a v o i d sexual c o n t a c t with m e n b e c a u s e of in o n e women 's words, "the fear of rape " while others "initiate sex" so as to feel some measure of control . A number of w o m e n desc r ibed h o w their feelings a round sexuality c h a n g e d over t ime a n d expressed a sense of loss at the realization that they were very young w h e n they b e g a n hav ing sex, as one par t ic ipant d e s c r i b e d she was "only a baby". In keep ing with my desire to avo id appropr ia t ing information into my "a l ready existing s c h e m a " (Anderson a n d Jack , 1990, p. 19), I h a v e p a i d spec ia l attention to listening for "findings" that are in stark contrast with my expectat ions, The fac t that a number of the w o m e n shared their discomfort in be ing in relationships with other w o m e n c h a l l e n g e d my o w n expe r i ence of women 's relationships as be ing a safer p l a c e . Part icipants desc r ibed the difficulty on a number of accoun ts . For some w o m e n , "competition between women" has b e e n e x p e r i e n c e d as a barrier. The desire to "disassociate oneself from what it means to be a woman in this culture", in one woman 's words, is another reason some w o m e n preferred friendships with men . Other w o m e n shared that it is b e c a u s e w e e x p e c t to b e d isappo in ted by m e n that "it hurts more when we are betrayed by other women". All of the part ic ipants expressed a sense of comfor t in the group, however , a n d a feel ing of be ing less a lone . W h e n I asked part icipants what felt different a b o u t their 78 relationships with e a c h other in this group, a number of w o m e n desc r i bed feel ing safe, how in one women 's words, "we know we all have common experiences, even if we are also very different" a n d another shared "it's been safe to have feelings about things, and it's probably also because we all have a feminist awareness of oppression". In the words of o n e w o m a n , the expe r ience of b e c o m i n g invo lved in this project a l l owed for "sisterhood in this pain". That is to say, the group b e c a m e a n opportuni ty for w o m e n to c o n n e c t a n d reveal aspec ts of themselves that usually d o not m a k e the l eap from "my head to my tongue" (another part icipant 's explanat ion) . This group therefore b e c a m e a w a y for w o m e n to connec t , to share their subjectivities, to foster intersubjectivity. The impo r tance this research has p l a c e d on a c k n o w l e d g i n g women 's subjectivities flows from the permission I have learned to g ive myself to b e a n expert on my own exper ience, wh ich has in turn a l l owed me to honor other w o m e n as experts on their own lives. It is my expe r i ence a n d a c o r e belief that w e c a n not a c c o m p a n y nor faci l i tate passages to p l aces w e h a v e not b e e n ourselves. Journeys into support ing the strengths of others must paral lel recovery of our o w n strength. For some of us it is a discovery of our worth a n d strength rather than recovery, as w e m a y h a v e never felt v a l u e d before. I be l ieve it is a c k n o w l e d g i n g the validity of my o w n feelings of depression, despair, disorder as a w o m a n in this culture, that has fostered my commi tment to never knowingly . 79 par t ic ipate in the si lencing of another w o m a n ' s knowing/protest ing v o i c e . O n e of the most powerful routes to intersubjectivity is d ia logue. In order to d ia logue a b o u t issues that are emot ional ly powerful , while a l lowing d i f ference to t e a c h a n d b e honored, relationships must foster safety. W h e n I asked part ic ipants how they c a m e to feel safe in the group, the fol lowing were some of their responses: "I liked that no one knew me from before, so no one had a preconceived idea of me". "There is such a power in group, in women sharing their experiences, I had forgotten how much I need this in my life". "It's just about having a place to talk about theses things and see how we are all very different but still face similar issues around this as women". "We are all very different, but it's so nice to be here and just listen or be heard". My role in the research m o v e d to wha t I wou ld descr ibe as that of a conta iner . From wha t part icipants h a d to say, it seems that not feel ing j u d g e d or l a b e l e d a n d be ing in the p resence of other w o m e n were important aspec ts of c reat ing safety a n d fostering intersubjectivity. In order to prevent w o m e n from feel ing j u d g e d or a s h a m e d of their exper iences, it was essential to al low multiple points of v iew to e m e r g e or to w e l c o m e "difference". O n e of the ways that this occu r red was by d e v e l o p i n g wha t Butler a n d Wintram h a v e c a l l e d group "biographies", where ongo ing individual narratives inspire a sense of co l lec t ive purpose a n d w isdom w h e n d i f ference a n d context are exp la ined (1991). In a c c o r d a n c e with the part icipatory spirit of the research, I 80 fac i l i ta ted questions regarding d i f ference or the unexp la ined, b a c k to the g roup by using support ive o p e n e n d e d quest ioning such a s : is there more to this ? How d o you see these things h a p p e n i n g that w a y ? Wha t stops other things from happen ing instead ? This journeying from individual or subject ive know ledge towards co l lec t ive know ledge or intersubjectivity is a further reconstruct ion of a dualistic or reductionist construct, that of the individual/society pa rad igm. Feminist theory has long a r g u e d that the "personal is pol i t ical" a n d more recent ly theorists such as Bonnie Thornton Hill h a v e a r g u e d that w e must find a w a y of mak ing the pol i t ical personal , of deve lop ing relationships that sustain c h a n g e , wel lbe ing a n d growth. O n e of the most powerful means of br idging g a p s in human connec t ions is to share parts of our stories that wou ld otherwise not b e expressed publ ic ly b e c a u s e : "the ult imate solidarity is the solidarity of pa in . Strip p e o p l e of power, strip them of all those cultural aspects wh ich give them distinction a n d individuality- so that they are i ndeed str ipped of their 'personality' - a n d you are still left with a sentient body" (Smail,1993, p.216). From this perspect ive, bodi ly distress a n d difficulties c a n b e pa thways into c o n n e c t i n g with our own a n d e a c h other's bodi ly a n d emot iona l w i s d o m . It is with this awareness of the validity of women's exper iences of distress under patr iarchy that I entered into the process of this research project. I w a n t e d to bring the focus on generat ing "usable know ledge" (ibid.) to the contextua l perspect ive of a feminist lens. Most of all, I w a n t e d to re-search ways of be ing in relation with w o m e n that were non-pathol ig iz ing, revelatory a n d empower ing . Inquiry that seeks to "utilize" expe r i ence 81 c a n also serve to integrate a n d re-appropr ia te the w isdom expressed in the "problem", a n d in the process foster h o p e . Thomas M o o r e descr ibes h o w these problems c a n b e c o m e gifts, a n invitation to listen to our souls, a n d asserts that: "feelings of emptiness, the loss of the familiar understandings a n d structures of life, a n d the vanishing of enthusiasm, e v e n though they s e e m nega t i ve are e lements that c a n b e app rop r i a ted a n d used to g ive life n e w mean ing" (1992,P. 141). If w e were to a c c e p t periods of distress a n d depression as inevi table, wise e v e n , g iven present structural condit ions, w e c o u l d c o m e to see despai r as invitations to d o n our "Sealskins, Soulskins" (Estes,1992, p.265). In cons ider ing the "usable knowledge" that e m e r g e d from this process of craft ing reflexive, part ic ipatory research my attent ion has of ten b e e n d rawn in two directions: want ing to focus on the richness of wha t part ic ipants h a v e to say abou t their exper iences a n d mak ing sense of my o w n learning exper ience as a researcher, Part icipants' vo ices demonst ra te h o w women 's feel ings of depression a n d d isordered ea t ing are means of c o p i n g with oppressive ca tegor ies of d i f ference, with the painful impac t of "othering". It b e c o m e s essential therefore that support systems, whether they b e family, friends, or professionals that seek to assist w o m e n fac ing feelings of depression a n d d isordered eat ing not repl icate this exper ience. The other important p i e c e of know ledge with great "utilization" potent ial is the benefi t of support in f ac i ng feel ings of depression a n d d isordered ea t ing . Relationships b e t w e e n two or more peop le , that a c k n o w l e d g e subjectivity as va l id , that v iew emot iona l exchanges as authent ic rather than inappropr iate, 82 hold the potent ia l for w o m e n to find wha t they may h a v e b e e n seeking a n d expressing in feelings of depression a n d d isordered ea t ing ; a self-definit ion that is not constr ic ted by powerlessness but honored for its powerfulness. Feminist Jung ian analyst Mar ianne W o o d m a n has p roposed that wha t the wor ld needs more of is feminine energy (1996). She clear ly differentiates b e t w e e n feminine or mascul ine as m e a n i n g physical ly e m b o d i e d gender ; she descr ibes these as me taphor i ca l forces that all of us h a v e within us. W o o d m a n a c k n o w l e d g e s the impor tance of the in te rconnectedness of both energies while point ing to h o w w e d o not know h o w to listen, rece ive or mirror well a n d that w e d o not va lue support ing or con ta in ing exper ience . Integrating exper iences requires a process that conta ins a n d permits unfolding, that recognizes that o n e c a n b e vulnerable a n d strong, ready a n d fearful- f inished a n d beg inn ing . Intersubjectivity happens when w e con ta in exper iences whether they b e of joy, grief, ange r or d i f ference long e n o u g h to m a k e m e a n i n g of them. Intersubjectivity b e c o m e s two or more, knowing subjects talking. A researcher's reflexivity then b e c o m e s a strength from wh ich to d raw upon in order to more fully understand what is occurr ing in the encounter . In p rac t i ce , this mean t a c k n o w l e d g i n g my feelings, emot iona l or bodi ly, thoughts a n d behaviors that e m e r g e d for m e while in the research group. I also feel that by sharing these intuitive feelings with part icipants, my reflexivity b e c o m e s a statement abou t the impor tance of the relationships for me. From a distant "object ive" s tance, the relationship 83 matters more to a part icipant 's wel lbe ing; from a feminist reflexive standpoint providing c a r e a n d facil i tat ing growth are mutually benef ic ia l ac ts of subversion, P lac ing bo th myself a n d other w o m e n as experts on our respect ive exper iences cha l l enges the pa tho log i ca l v iew of women 's exper iences of distress. Pa tho log ica l a c c o u n t s are destruct ive b e c a u s e they of ten l e a d to st igmatization, shame a n d sel f-blame for social ly cons t ruc ted d i lemmas. A focus on symptomology is counter to the c reat ion of useful k n o w l e d g e b e c a u s e it does not recogn ize a n d therefore utilize a person's who le be ing a n d therefore full resources. The strength of the h u m a n spirit c a n never b e overest imated a n d I be l ieve by incorporat ing stories of resil ience, w e beg in to see a who le person before us. Accountability Questions regarding reliability, the soundness of findings, the potent ia l for genera l izat ion a n d other measures of validity are not easily reconc i l ab le with part ic ipatory or feminist research at first g l ance , insofar as they h a v e often b e e n used to refer to "weed ing out" subject ive interpretations of d a t a . Hayes (1989) reframes the question of validity in terms of whether or not the research contr ibuted to positive c h a n g e for part icipants. In this regard, all part ic ipants shared that the group h a d b e e n a positive expe r i ence that va l i da ted their exper iences. All the same, research c o n c e r n e d with the e m a n c i p a t i o n of any person or group must take into considerat ion the impor tance of accountab i l i ty . 84 C a n c i a n (1992) proposes that social ac t ion requires eva luat ion in as m u c h as it furthers understanding of c o m p e t i n g discourses a n d legitimizes feminist know ledge by "showing that it works in a p rac t i ca l situation" (p.633). In Patr icia Maguire's honest a c c o u n t of her "attempt" at par t ic ipatory research in Vo ices of C h a n g e : Part ic ipatory Research in The United States a n d C a n a d a (1993), she emphasizes the impor tance of loca t ing the c o u r a g e to "learn by do ing rather than be ing immobi l ized a n d int imidated by idea l standards" (p. 158). Wha t I found most refreshing is exact ly this invitation to "explore" the ways of part ic ipatory research rather than "perform" the me thod . Magu i re asserts that "Part icipatory research has highl ighted the centrality of power in the socia l construct ion of knowledge, yet it has largely ignored the centrali ty of ma le power in that construct ion" (p. 163). It is my h o p e that w o m e n will b e c o m e increasingly a w a r e of the usefulness of part ic ipatory research, a n d that m e n a n d w o m e n w h o seek more e m a n c i p a t o r y methods of inquiry will the consider both power a n d gender in our construct ion of research . The limitations of the project reflect not only the sampl ing of part ic ipants w h o chose to par t ic ipate in the project but also the process utilized to "recruit" part ic ipants. Upon the realization that part ic ipants were der i ved mostly from The University of British C o l u m b i a student popu la t ion , it o ccu r red to m e that perhaps I should recruit more part ic ipants from women 's organizat ions so as to ob ta in a more diverse sample . O n e of the tasks of the group may b e to d o this next step as at least o n e par t ic ipant has c o m m e n t e d on her desire to see more w o m e n of diverse cultural backg rounds involved in the process. The a b s e n c e of 85 very marg ina l ized w o m e n , such as w o m e n w h o live with wha t w e social ly construct as "disabilities", first nations w o m e n , w o m e n w h o are not a b l e to r ead a n d write, a n d houseless w o m e n limits the ability to general ize with regards to what needs to b e different for other w o m e n . In order to r e a c h wider communi t ies of w o m e n , it will b e necessary to eva lua te h o w this type of pro ject c o u l d m e e t the needs of diverse w o m e n . Questions as to whether "an outsider" should b e inquiring into another communi ty without invitation, or the p l a c e m e n t of the researcher with regards to appropr iat ion are crucial . A n interesting potent ial o u t c o m e of the recogni t ion of the partiality of all v iewpoints is a cal l for further research , From this perspect ive, research, inquiry a n d reflection are never c o m p l e t e . Me thods from the Margins (Kirby a n d McKenna,1989) may soon b e no more, insofar as they are congruent with the values of disciplines such as social work a n d current trends in health reform involving communi ty part ic ipat ion. The circular journey that is learning brings us b a c k to where w e b e g a n in order to retrieve wha t it is that w e knew w e must know in the first p l a c e . Disciplines a n d pract ices such as social work that v iew the purposes of their scholarly endeavors as contr ibut ing to justice, equi ty a n d f r e e d o m from oppression must explicitly express, quest ion a n d c o m e to terms with their epistemologies a n d methodo log ies . In c o n c r e t e terms, w e must foster means of actual iz ing our principles, beliefs, values a n d vision through support ing emanc ipa to r y praxis including but not limited to research. 86 D o n n a Haraway (1988) advises that "Subjugation is not grounds for a n ontology; it might b e a visual c lue. Vision requires instruments of vision" (p.586). Feminist a n d part ic ipatory research prov ide such instruments. In my opin ion, they are not so m u c h to b e understood as a set of distinct steps of "how to" but rather as a process of quest ioning a n d uncover ing . It is my h o p e that this work illuminates methods that integrate intuition, feel ing, know ledge a n d the p resence of the unknown. Participants' 'Experience of The Research In order to remain with the "text", I l eave this chap te r in part ic ipants o w n words. The words of one par t ic ipant reflect her exper iences: What I've gotten from the group: * a light thru the isolation I feel around eating * a way thru other to see that eating problems have been a sane reaction in our situations- not anomalous *new compassion for myself because of compassion for other women * a chance to share the benefits of my experiences ( successes and failures) * a chance to help advance the amount of work and legitimacy of the work\on eating disorders * an alliance with strong, wonderful, role model women. Another part icipant offered this further reflection in writing: My experience with Linda Lee's participatory research group has given me another way to challenge the internal and external aspects of depression and disordered eating. In addition, Linda Lee's reflexive research introduced me to several strong and intelligent women, finally, we're not crazy ! Another part ic ipant shared this: The research got me thinking these little details aren't just little details. Disordered eating can be very easily dismissed a personal problem, as vanity, someone out of control or just oSessesive. I thinkit had me conpletely releaming how the personalis political, what you experience on a day to day Basis, ilustrates to me, an attack 0 7 1 women, a war on women. Whatever it is, it is reinforced at every single level 87 imaginable, you get it economically, politically, through the fatuity, through school, through workt through how you are treated at the grocery store. "Through disordered eating it manages to atack\every women, in her home. I am impressed with the efficiency of ideology. I don't like calling it an attack. Because it sounds paranoid. It happens in a lot of ways, how we feel about our bodies, our approach to our bodies, it feels like- the last frontier where it is tearing you apart-you are making advances but it is like a self-organzing system: the structure knows what to do. !As people we are very complex it does not take much to have a profound effect, you don't have to be beaten every day to feel fear. "We underestimate the power of being able to reclaim our bodies, it can be equivalent to reclaiming the world. It the basic and biggest step because so much energy goes towards it, the self esteem aspect, self-worth, respect, being allowed to take up space. "Hoise in the system is all we are seen as. "We have to find a way to teach the world not to hear that as noise anymore, there is something automatic about., the structure is such that it is almost ridiculous that we would want to speak UP> it's absurd. It's difficult to be heard, to speak in language, with the metaphors that you have given me, it sounds like conspiracy, it feels like it's all on my shoulders, I have to figure out the bullshit, make sense out of it, spoon feed it to you in order to be heard. These are f l ipchart notes of what part icipants h a d to say a b o u t wha t needs to b e different so that fewer young w o m e n f a c e feelings of depression a n d d isordered eat ing. As these notes assisted the g roup in consider ing wha t they might want to d o abou t their exper iences, I h a v e not used them in the Analysis or Emergent Themes sect ion of this d o c u m e n t as I feel that the p i e c e of dec id ing the next step in dea l i ng with these findings belongs to the group. Second Group Meeting : "Flipchart Notes One thing that helped: Support Learning to love others, a n d feel loved by others, wh ich is really hard. This helps with loneliness a n d w h e n you are depressed. 88 Support of boyfr iends. Support through the process a n d c h a n g e s . Having a heal thy sex life, wh ich brings up the quest ion of ma le a p p r o v a l . You can ' t h a v e too many p e o p l e tell you are beauti ful . The e x a m p l e of store clerks saying "If you just went on a diet... It c a n b e easier to b e with men b e c a u s e they c a n b e less f o c u s e d on a p p e a r a n c e , wh ich is part of the desire to d isassociate ourselves from be ing w o m e n , wh ich is a b o u t want ing to cha l l enge g e n d e r expec ta t i ons . Being part of a communi ty . Understanding of the Cultural Context Mak ing l eap from: "these are my issues" to seeing the larger pat tern in society, see ing the in terconnectedness of these issues for men , g a y p e o p l e . Get t ing perspect ive, taking a break from images from television, magaz ines , Ho l l ywood movies. Being a feminist. Being other than beautiful.... (smart, e . t . c . ) O n whose terms d o I n e e d to b e beauti ful is the next step in heal ing. See ing a n d a c c e p t i n g di f ferences within feminism. Recogn iz ing the anger w e feel at be ing w o m e n in this culture. Role Models It is difficult b e c a u s e w e lack role models, mentors. W e h a v e feminist ideas on paper . Women 's Studies helps. Spirituality c a n help re lease socia l expectat ions. For e x a m p l e a y o g a instructor who h e l p e d with b e c o m i n g g rounded in the body , the breath. Mothers c a n b e role models but are often still dea l ing with their o w n difficult exper iences, such as be ing p r e o c c u p i e d with their weight. Seeing one's mother at least try to work through her issues is helpful. Some mothers sharing that it is g o o d that daughters are dea l ing with these issues now rather than later like they have h a d to. The expe r i ence of hav ing another older w o m a n w h o h a d f a c e d bul imia tell her story a n d recovery. 89 Diverse posit ive role models, see ing w o m e n w h o d o like themselves, w h o are successful . What I wish had Been different: Education and Prevention That s o m e o n e wou ld h a v e to ld me that anorex ia a n d bul imia are not romant ic . Schoo l - based discussions only talk a b o u t the techn ica l side of the p r o b l e m . Discussions in schoo l should not b e f ocused on problems a round diet ing a n d ea t ing but a round feelings. W e turn to f o o d when life is not perfect . W e n e e d b a l a n c e . W e n e e d to recogn ize pa in a n d difficulty. Our society a lways makes us feel like w e n e e d more a n d better. Perfect ionism a n d perpe tua l n e e d i n g a re social ly c r e a t e d . W e n e e d a c c e p t a n c e . Little girls should b e e n c o u r a g e d to g o out a n d play. But w e n e e d to address the quest ion of how compet i t i ve sports c a n b e d a m a g i n g . W e n e e d to va lue exercise for our ourselves rather than for the compet i t i on or control . Fitness instructors should recogn ize w h e n p e o p l e are mot i va ted out of a sense of depression a n d d isordered ea t ing . They also n e e d to recogn ize their o w n issues a round weightism. Doctors responses must b e different. They often don' t be l ieve w e c o u l d b e hav ing difficulty b e c a u s e they say: "You're my per fec t patient", W e n e e d to recogn ize h o w c o m m o n self-injurious behav io r really is (such as cutt ing a n d hitting ourselves). The m e d i c a l m o d e l has to b e cha l l enged , it only scra tches the sur face by pa tho log iz ing our exper iences. W e learn mistrust as girls. W e are afraid of the world w e live in. W e n e e d safety such as assertiveness, self-esteem a n d sel f-defense classes in early ch i l dhood . W o m e n f a c e feel ings of depression a n d d isordered ea t ing b e c a u s e of their yearn ing to m a k e the best they c a n out of themselves a n d their lives. How c a n this b e c h a n n e l e d differently ? There is a correlat ion b e t w e e n s leeping problems a n d d isordered ea t ing . 90 Caf fe ine is a p rob lem. Like weight p reoccupa t i on , it keeps us from thinking abou t wha t our lives are really like. Emotional Literacy W e wish w e h a d our feelings a c k n o w l e d g e d at h o m e a n d at schoo l , such as feelings a b o u t be ing t e a s e d for be ing "different". A c c e p t a n c e that feelings are part of life. W e n e e d to find ways of talking a b o u t our feelings. W e n e e d to a c k n o w l e d g e the mixed feelings a n d exper iences girls f a c e w h e n their periods begin , such as feelings abou t wha t it will m e a n to b e a "gender" rather than a chi ld. W e n e e d to a c k n o w l e d g e this discomfort a n d difficulty from a non-pa tho log iz ing perspec t i ve , Social Action It is important that the whole communi ty dea l with these issues, not just the s c h o o l . W e n e e d a n e w kind of "brownies", where girls c a n learn to b e friends with other girls rather than earn useless badges , W e n e e d to intervene early before the a g e w h e n girls are r e d u c e d to feel ing like they are their bodies. W e n e e d other kinds of med ia , cartoons, toys that demonst ra te the diversity of women 's realities. Society has no room for authent ic peop le . Healthy Sexuality W e n e e d to discuss sexuality openly, W e n e e d to recogn ize that somet imes w e don' t really wan t to b e sexually involved, We-real ly wan t to feel l oved . There is a great d i f ference in feel ing love with s o m e o n e w e are sexually involved with, Sexuality is of ten used as control . W e sexually p lease others so that they will love us, w e "hook" them sexually, Other times, w e initiate sex so that w e don' t h a v e to live with the fear of be ing assaul ted w h e n w e may not b e sure w e wan t sex, W e n e e d to know that our bod ies are our own . W e feel w e grew up too fast. W e realize that w e were "just bab ies" w h e n w e b e g a n hav ing sex. Now w e are struggling to recapture our youth, our frivolity. 91 Chapter Six_ yjnti -Conclusion It is no longer such a lonely thing to open one's eyes. Adrienne Rich At the time of this writing, the group has not met in a month but plans to mee t during Christmas break, w h e n part ic ipants h a v e more t ime a g a i n . Part ic ipants h a v e b e e n prov ided with information regard ing other support a n d ac t ion group such as Big Sisters, GirlFutures, The C a n a d i a n Assoc ia t ion of Anorex ia Nervosa a n d Re la ted Disorders, a n d the Eat ing Disorder Awareness Week p lanning group. The group has d e c i d e d that they wou ld like to put together a pamph le t or information sheet a round feelings of depression a n d d isordered eat ing or a newsletter ent i t led: "No, You're not crazy". D o n n a H a r a w a y has a r g u e d that e m b o d i e d , s i tuated k n o w l e d g e c a n c h a l l e n g e "forms of u n l o c a t e d a n d so irresponsible, k n o w l e d g e cla ims" (1988, p.583). Reflexivity c a n counter the a c a d e m i c s tance "du jour" that oppression is only a construct ion of reality, b e c a u s e "it is no c o i n c i d e n c e that just as Western white males realize they c a n no longer def ine the truth, they d e c i d e d there is no truth to b e d iscovered" (Sara Lennox in Cancian,1992,p,630). It is essential that reflexive, experiential know ledge is reconst ruc ted a n d contextua l ized b e c a u s e feminist a n d postructuralist p rac t ices that deconst ruct exper ience c a n "fit" with individualist v iewpoints if the focus remains on mono logue a n d subjectivity rather than d ia logue a n d intersubjectivity. In eva luat ing this work, I want it to b e cons idered for its "utilization" potent ia l a n d for its demonstrat ion of "emot ional l i teracy" 92 (Orback,1994,p. l2) . In order to live amidst d i f ference, w e n e e d to b e a b l e to d e v e l o p our f luency in feelings, to b e a b l e to read a n d write our subjectivity expressed in emotions. Speak ing, hear ing, utilizing a n d d e v e l o p i n g c a p a c i t y to understand, express a n d e m p l o y our emot iona l w isdom is not easy in a culture that deva lues authent ic i ty a n d passion. A l i ce Miller bel ieves that w e dull our emot iona l genius in ch i l dhood . She asserts that travels into the s h a d o w of humanity that recogn ize wha t is lost in our present w a y of rearing the feel ing a n d dep th out of our chi ldren c a n l ead to emanc ipa t i on ; "if w e are willing to o p e n our eyes to the suffering of the chi ld, w e will soon realize that it lies within us as adults either to turn the newborn into monsters by the w a y w e treat them or to let t hem grow up into feel ing - a n d therefore responsible -human beings". My a p p r o a c h to writing this narrative dec la res writing as a form of inquiry a n d that "no textual staging is innocent" (Richardson, 1992,p. 518). I be l ieve that I h a v e only b e e n ab le to write in h a n d a n d at night b e c a u s e my v o i c e (in writing) has b e c o m e the signifier of my will to l oca te subjectivity, a sense of myself w h e n I feel most unsafe. Helen Keller said that security is all superstition, that life must b e a dar ing adven tu re or nothing at all. My spirit, my resolve, my devo t ion h a v e e m e r g e d from this process intact, yet wiser still. If there is one thing that I h a v e learned in this process of re-searching the craft of reflexive feminist praxis, it is that be ing a n "outlaw", speak ing of know ledge that d e -centers, de-legit imizes the powers that si lence is dangerous, exhaust ing work. To survive the journey, w e c a n not d o it a lone. For this reason, I see my de fense as a ritual thank you for all those who h a v e v a l u e d my work, h a v e l istened to my authent ic vo i ce a n d suppor ted my n e e d to k e e p 93 on talking. I h o p e that w e c a n reap the rewards of devo t ion as communi ty . O n e of the most important implications of this search a n d re-search into reflexive praxis is a n explorat ion of wha t heal th a n d hea l ing look like in this culture. Whether in my relationships with research part icipants or other students in the program, a recurring quest ion is to h o w w e c a n mainta in our sense of purpose a n d power, our desires, d reams a n d aspirations, our values under oppressive regimes. It is essential not to glorify women 's exper iences of disorder or what is lost in the process of living life as a n 1 "outlaw" b e c a u s e "uncrit ical a c c e p t a n c e of women 's ways of knowing, be ing , or do ing m a y naturalize behav ior that is actual ly the c o n s e q u e n c e of centuries of oppression" (Hawkesworth as q u o t e d in Al len a n d Baber,1992,p.4). In many ways this thesis d o c u m e n t e d a n inquiry into the process of craft ing reflexive, feminist research that c a n c rea te "usable knowledge" , more than it p resented "findings". This may b e a mirror of my sense that this inquiry has only just begun . I see this pract ice/ thesis as a pear l , c r e a t e d as Barbara Co la roso descr ibes out of 'friction'; the"text" of all my longings c o m i n g up against the grain of oppressive structures. I see this work as o n e b e a d to b e strung a l o n g side the endeavo rs of so many others, w h o shine in their strength, beauty, mystery a n d wholeness. In c o m i n g to terms with one p i e c e of this journey c o m i n g to a n e n d , my thoughts turn to what I wou ld d o differently next time, seeing the limitations of this work e v e n as I feel pr ide for what it has y ie lded. 94 In focus ing on the exper iences of young w o m e n w h o h a v e f a c e d feelings of depression a n d d isordered eat ing , this research m a y repl icate assumptions that it is only the young a n d the fema le that f a c e these exper iences of bodi ly distress. My journey into my Girl W isdom was perhaps a necessary part of my o w n heal ing a n d growth, but I wan t to suggest that the exper iences of boys a n d men , a n d the exper iences of p e o p l e of all ages are of equa l impor tance a n d will also ref lect their painful locat ions as categor ies of "other" in the world. In consider ing that it has taken m e over a d e c a d e to c o m e to terms with my exper iences of feel ings of depression a n d d isordered eat ing, I feel I wou ld n e e d a m u c h longer per iod of t ime than a few months, to "make sense" of, a n d qualify the exper ience of part ic ipants more fully. In future endeavors into part ic ipatory projects, I wou ld not only seek more time, but wou ld also look for clarif ications with regards to research relationships. I h a v e questions regard ing whether this kind of inquiry is best carr ied out amidst peers where all part ic ipants may b e involved in d a t a co l lec t ion , analysis a n d d o c u m e n t a t i o n to the d e g r e e that they feel invested. Soc ia l workers c o m e from the same families a n d work in the very institutions that are most invested in a pathol ig ized a c c o u n t of the lives of the p e o p l e w e work with. W e h a v e grown up fac ing the s a m e d i lemmas of family life, communi ty d iscord a n d social inequity. W e n e e d to use socia l work e d u c a t i o n as a n opportunity to reflect, to invite our who le person to par t ic ipate with other who le persons in socia l , contextua l work. Feminist p e d a g o g y views t e a c h i n g a n d learning as rec ip roca l , as: "more than a n a t tempt to find a testing ground for the fit b e t w e e n the c lassroom event a n d one's o w n exper ience , or for 95 reshaping one's expe r ience to merge with ava i l ab le patterns a n d a n e w orthodoxy of t each ing" (Schick, 1994,p.82). From this v iew, "knowledge b e c o m e s a process or even t in wh ich learning h a p p e n s a long the way" (ibid.). From this perspect ive , the comp le t i on of this research has b e e n fruitful not for wha t I h a d in tended to learn, rather it is my "utilization" of the material that has fostered ' learning; my emot ional , physical , spiritual a n d intel lectual ref lect ion u p o n the journey. This thesis is a publ ic pe r fo rmance of reflexive feminist praxis; a sonnet of o n e woman 's visions, hopes a n d dreams. 96 QI'BLIOGMWtY Alcoff, L. a n d Potter, E. (Ed.). (1993). Feminist Epistemologies, London : Rou t ledge . 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Depression: W o m e n at Risk. Socia l Work In Health C a r e . Vol , 19, No.3/4., 85-108, Wooley, A, (1979) Ado lescen t views of Obesity, Food a n d Nutrition 36:57-63. Wooley, S. (1994). "The Female Therapist as Outlaw", In Fallon, P.,Katzmen, M, & Wooley,S, (Eds,), Feminist Perspect ives on Eat ing Disorders, N e w York: Guil ford Press, Woolf, V. (1944). A Houn ted House a n d Other stories, N e w York: Harcour t ,Brace a n d World. Zalk, S.R. & G o r d o n Kel terJ . (Eds.). (1992). Revolutions in Know ledge : Feminism in The Socia l Sc iences , Boulder: Westv iew Press. 105 Appendix T> INDIVIDUAL INTERVIEW GUIDE STUDENT RESEARCHER WILL INTRODUCE SELF AND OUTLINE PURPOSE OF RESEARCH PROJECT My n a m e is Linda Lee Ross. As you know, I a m interested in the exper iences of y o u n g w o m e n w h o h a v e f a c e d feelings of depression a n d d isordered eat ing. As part of my master d e g r e e in socia l work, I a m interested in do ing a part ic ipatory research where young w o m e n c a n share their exper iences a n d d e c i d e if they wou ld like to take some kind of ac t i on to address their exper iences of feelings of depression a n d d iso rdered ea t ing . I wou ld like to remind you, as outl ined in the consent form you s igned, that your part ic ipat ion is comple te ly voluntary a n d you c a n c h o o s e to wi thdraw your part ic ipat ion at any t ime during the research process. 1) Do you h a v e any questions before w e beg in ? 2) H a v e you ever par t i c ipa ted in any kind of research ? If so, wha t was that like for you ? 3) This research project is different from some other kinds of research b e c a u s e it is a w a y of do ing research that is set up to m e e t the needs of those most a f f ec ted by the issues the research deals with. In other words, part ic ipants of the research are act ively involved in the research process. After w e have m e today, I will b e inviting you to a t tend a mee t ing with other y o u n g w o m e n w h o h a v e f a c e d feelings of depression a n d d isordered eat ing. Part of the research will therefore take p l a c e in a group. Have you ever b e e n involved with any kind of a group ? If so, what was that like for you ? 4) What wou ld you like to h a p p e n in the group ? What wou ld you not like to h a p p e n ? Do you h a v e any questions or conce rns a b o u t be ing involved in a group where w e will b e discussing the exper iences of y o u n g w o m e n w h o h a v e f a c e d feel ings of depress ion a n d d isordered eat ing ? If you feel the n e e d for support after be ing in the group, where c o u l d you g o to mee t that n e e d ? 5) Wha t m a d e you d e c i d e to par t ic ipate in this project ? What wou ld you like to ge t out of be ing involved with this project ? In what ways d o you think you might benefi t from be ing involved ? 6) H a v e any other questions or concerns c o m e to mind a b o u t be ing involved in the research project ? 109 7)We will b e meet ing as a group soon. Wha t da tes a n d times wou ld b e conven ien t for you ? M a y I ca l l you to let you know w h e n w e will b e meet ing ? M a y I l eave a message on a n answer ing m a c h i n e or with another person if you are not in ? How wou ld you feel most comfo r tab le in my identifying myself if I l eave a message ? Please feel free to c o n t a c t me, a n d my faculty advisor at any t ime throughout this process if you have any questions. Thank you for your time. I WILL ENSURE THAT PARTICIPANTS HAVE BOTH CONTACT TELEPHONE NUMBERS AT THE END OF THE INTERVIEW. 110 Appendix £ RESOURCES Eating Disorder Resource Centre of British Columbia 1081 Burrard Street, St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver , B.C. 631-5313 Has a resource library of journals, books a n d v ideos. Provides information on services ava i lab le in the prov ince of B.C.. Organizes Eat ing Disorder Awareness Week, Canadian Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Related Disorders 109 2040 W 12th Avenue, Vancouver , B.C. Information line 684-2623 Business line 739-2070 Provides support to individuals a n d their friends a n d family w h o are f a c i n g d isordered ea t ing . Provides support groups a n d opera tes a n information line a n d a speakers bureau, British Columbia Eating Disorder Association 841 Fairfield Road , Victoria B.C. V8V 3B6 (604)383-2755 Provides support a n d e d u c a t i o n a n d is involved in research in the a r e a of ea t ing disorders. Has a speakers bureau for the commun i ty to a c c e s s on ea t ing disorder prevent ion. GirlFutures Association for Building Self-Esteem Victoria, B.C. (604) 389-0802 Stacey (604)721-5173 Wendy Organizes activities for girls a n d their parents that foster self-esteem. Big Sisters of B.C.Lower Mainland 34 E. 12th Avenue, Vancouver , B.C., V5T 2G5 873-4525 M a t c h e s y o u n g girls with Big Sisters. Provides workshops for Big a n d Little Sisters in the areas of self-esteem a n d b o d y image . Opera tes J o b Shadowing , Multicultural O u t r e a c h a n d Spring C a m p programs. I l l First Call!! The BC Child & Youth Advocacy Movement L408-4480 Oak Street, Vancouver , B.C. V6H 3V4 875-3629 Provincial chi ld a n d youth a d v o c a c y organizat ion that has a number of working groups including a youth involvement in dec is ion mak ing task g roup . McCreary Centre Society 401 N. Esmond, Burnaby, B.C. 291-1996 Promotes Research in the a r e a of youth health issues for the Province of British C o l u m b i a . Feminist Research Education Development and Action (FREDA) SFU Harbour Cen t re C a m p u s , 515 Hastings, Vancouver , B.C. V6B 5K3 291-5197 Joint project b e t w e e n the University of British C o l u m b i a a n d Simon Fraser University that promotes Feminist a n d Participatory Ac t i on Research . Women Students Office Brock Hall, University of British C o l u m b i a 822-2415 Offers support ive counsel l ing a n d a d v o c a c y for w o m e n students. Provides support groups a n d workshops for w o m e n students in a number of a reas a n d a mentor ing p rogram for w o m e n of color. 112 

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