Book review: False Bodies, True Selves

Bob Price finds out why body image is a concern for nurses by reviewing False Bodies, True Selves.

4 stars

Body image remains of deep concern to nurses, whether they work in trauma, cancer care or deal with chronic illnesses as the ways in which patients’ experience the body is important.

False Bodies, True Selves

Altered body image is a recurring concern within mental illness too. Since the 1990s, nurses have developed their own explanations of altered body image.

So the question arises, do nurses need a further text, one written by a psychotherapist? At an operational level, the answer is no.

This text was never conceived of as a handbook for nurses. It is a book of theories and insights. The skin is a ‘canvas for self-expression’.

Even before injury or disease individuals are actively engaged in judging the body. People use the body to mediate ideas about self and self-worth, and they use it as currency within social interaction. 

Body perspectives

For nurses more widely interested in wellbeing, this book has value. It provides complimentary perspectives on the body and personal identity, which may help explain the struggles that some patients experience.

Nurses often start with the body and problems met there, while psychotherapists start with the mind moving to perceptions of the body that result.

Both start points have value and can augment notions of what represents empathetic support.

Nicola Schnackenberg| Karnac books | 352pp | £29.99 | ISBN: 9781782203964


Reviewed by Bob Price, independent health services training consultant

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