Friday, June 1, 2012

Five top books on the history of medicine and addiction

Louise Foxcroft is the author of The Making of Addiction and Hot Flushes, Cold Science: A History of the Modern Menopause, for which she won the Longman Pearson/History Today Book of the Year Award. Her latest book is Calories and Corsets: A History of Dieting Over 2000 Years.

With Daisy Banks of The Browser, she discussed five top books on the history of medicine and addiction, including:
Fat is a Feminist Issue
by Susie Orbach

...Susie Orbach’s book Fat is a Feminist all about deception regarding the body.

This book isn’t entirely to do with the history of medicine, but it is relevant. I think it is still as important today as when it first came out in 1978. Orbach exposes our obsession with our bodies and the narcissistic nature of society. You could say that worrying and obsessing about our size and shape, how it might be improved, what diet we should go on and what surgery we should have for it, is just another version of our obsession with ourselves.

How do her ideas tally with your research in your own book Calories and Corsets?

I quote Orbach at the beginning of my book. When she wrote her book in the late seventies, she said that nothing had changed in the last 50 years, and in my book I argue that not much has changed since 1978 either. It’s an uphill struggle to get us to change our opinions about our perceptions of ourselves and how we present ourselves in society. So much of how we view our bodies is cultural, but of course it can lead to psychological problems.

But wouldn’t you agree that due to what we are eating and drinking, most of us are overweight and do need to live more healthily?

Yes, I do. I would take you right back to the Greeks and the Romans and say that we should be more interested in a long-term way of living which is good for our health, rather than obsessing over particular bits of our body. It is all about moderation.
Read about the other books Foxcroft tagged at The Browser.

Also see Dan Barden's list of six notable stories of addiction.

--Marshal Zeringue