Under the Skin: A Psychoanalytic Study of Body Modification

Author(s) : Alessandra Lemma

Under the Skin: A Psychoanalytic Study of Body Modification

Book Details

  • Publisher : Routledge
  • Published : January 2010
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 216
  • Category :
  • Catalogue No : 29418
  • ISBN 13 : 9780415485708
  • ISBN 10 : 0415485703
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Considers the motivation behind why people pierce, tattoo, cosmetically enhance, or otherwise modify their body, from a psychoanalytic perspective. It discusses how the therapist can understand and help individuals for whom the manipulation of the body is felt to be psychically necessary, regardless of whether the process of modification causes pain.

In this book, psychoanalyst Alessandra Lemma draws on her work in the consulting room, as well as films, fiction, art and clinical research to suggest that the motivation for extensively modifying the surface of the body, and being excessively preoccupied with its appearance, comes from the persons internal world under their skin.

Topics covered include: body image disturbance; appearance anxiety; body dysmorphic disorder; the psychological function of cosmetic surgery, tattooing, piercing, and scarification.

Under the Skin provides a detailed study of the challenges posed by our embodied nature through an exploration of the unconscious phantasies that underlie the need for body modification, making it essential reading for all clinicians working with those who are preoccupied with their appearance and modify their bodies including psychotherapists, counsellors, psychiatrists and psychologists.

Reviews and Endorsements

'It is high time for clinicians to recognise that the body matters. This book is a brilliant illustration of how psychoanalytic therapy can illuminate our struggles with the physicality of our being and suggests effective solutions for the clinical management of these. With this book, Alessandra Lemma has established herself as one of the most original and creative contributors to psychoanalytic psychotherapy. The book is replete with arresting clinical insights and provides innovative theoretical integration that the field concerned with the mind in the body has lacked for a generation.'
- Peter Fonagy, Freud Memorial Professor of Psychoanalysis, University College London

'Beautifully written, this book is easily approachable by a large spectrum of readers while also addressing some deeply psychoanalytic and clinical issues. By discussing specific unconscious phantasies and the hatred of reality at work in the compelling need to modify the surface of the body, the book introduces an important psychoanalytic perspective on the complex and delicate role of early maternal responsiveness in development.'
- Dana Birksted-Breen, Training Psychoanalyst; Joint Editor-in-Chief International Journal of Psychoanalysis

The Body as Canvas.
As You Desire Me.
The Symptom of Ugliness Mirrors.
Being seen or Being Watched.
Occupied Territories and Foreign Parts: Reclaiming the Body.
Copies Without Originals: Envy and the Maternal Body.
The Botoxing of Experience.
Ink, Holes and Scars.
An Order of Pure Decision.

About the Author(s)

Alessandra Lemma is the Unit Director, Psychological Therapies Development Unit, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, and the Clinical Director of the Psychological Interventions Research Centre, University College London. She is a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society. She is Visiting Professor, Psychoanalysis Unit, University College London, and Honorary Professor of Psychological Therapies at Essex University. She is the Regional Editor (London) of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis and General Editor of the New Library of Psychoanalysis book series (Routledge). She has published several books and papers on psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, the body, and trauma. Alessandra Lemma is also a Winner of the Levy-Goldfarb Award for Child Psychoanalysis.

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