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Books, Journals, New Media
April 9, 2003

Body Image

Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.

JAMA. 2003;289(14):1861-1862. doi:10.1001/jama.289.14.1861

Mark Twain, quoted in Body Image, once said, "‘the worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.'" In this handbook, 71 internationally recognized experts collaborate to address the suffering that stems from body image problems. The book is comprehensive, with 57 chapters in nine sections. Careful editing has minimized redundancy, with chapters cross-referencing one another.

The first section, "Conceptual Foundations," gives historical background and sociocultural, psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, information-processing, and feminist perspectives on body image. This section is the most challenging to read, as terms specific to body image are introduced and more abstract concepts are defined. Each chapter is concise in its summary of key findings in the literature. Owing to the breadth of material, not all topics can be covered in great detail. For example, chapter 3 touches on intriguing topics, such as "alien hand" syndrome and children with limb aplasia who report phantoms, leaving this reader curious to learn more about these conditions. Fortunately, at the end of each chapter is a list of "informative readings" for those who wish to delve more deeply into the material. An appreciated feature of these annotated bibliographies is that each reference is accompanied by a brief description, which helps the reader discern its relevance to the field.

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