Proud2Bme: Exploratory research on care and control in young women’s online eating disorder narratives
Health (United Kingdom) , Volume 20 - Issue 3 p. 220- 241
Illness narratives have been studied to understand the patient’s point of view. These narratives are becoming more prolific, accessible, and specialized, thanks to the improved Internet access and the growth of health-specific online communities. This article analyses illness narratives posted on a Dutch eating disorder website hosted by a treatment centre. Specifically, we look at ‘care of the self’ and ‘control’. The young women wrote about controlling situations with disordered eating as a self-care tool, about being controlled by the disorder and about regaining control over the disorder. The website, with the opportunity for constant, unseen supervision, coercion through comments, and steering through edits and comments, revealed various modalities of control. While issues of control and eating disorders have been explored by others, little work has been done on how the control experienced by the young women (coercion on the individual, the body as the object of control, and the modality of pressure and supervision) interact, how control is presented in stories for a recovery-focused, monitored website, and how the website directs the content. As recovery-focused, therapist-led website is likely to continue growing, understanding how and why young women talk about care and control in the context of such websites is an important topic.