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Poetry and male eating disorders

Bartel, Heike; Baker, Charley


Professor of German Studies and Health Humanities

Associate Professor


Brian Brown

Andrea Charise


Literary texts—from autobiographies and novels to self-help books and poetry—that explore experiences of illness can give unique and poignant insights into the states of mind and lives of individuals affected by physical or mental ill health. This chapter investigates the creative use of such texts to aid deeper understanding and knowledge in practitioners beyond the usual limits of health-care settings, and to support people affected as well their families and carers. It outlines theoretical approaches to the use of literature in health care and therapy, and also provides detailed close readings of select poems on the neglected topic of male eating disorders. The case study on this corpus of texts, collected through the “Hungry for Words” project, shows the particular potential of poetry to articulate a “hunger for words” and to promote a greater understanding of illness, using this under-researched area of eating disorders as an example. The desired outcomes of this chapter are to highlight the contributions literary texts can make to compassionate health care and to a greater understanding of oneself and others when dealing with experiences of illness.

Online Publication Date Feb 10, 2020
Publication Date 2020
Deposit Date Nov 12, 2020
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Pages 248-254
Book Title The Routledge Companion to Health Humanities
Chapter Number 30
ISBN 9781138579903
Public URL
Publisher URL