False Bodies, True Selves: Moving Beyond Appearance-Focused Identity Struggles and Returning to the True Self

Author(s) : Nicole Schnackenberg

False Bodies, True Selves: Moving Beyond Appearance-Focused Identity Struggles and Returning to the True Self

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : June 2016
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 352
  • Category :
    Individual Psychotherapy
  • Category 2 :
    Eating Disorders
  • Catalogue No : 37810
  • ISBN 13 : 9781782203964
  • ISBN 10 : 1782203966
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False Bodies, True Selves explores the phenomenon of growing numbers of people in western society and beyond completely embedding their sense of identity in their appearance. Unlike other books which address either theoretical models of appearance-focused identity struggles or explore lived experiences of appearance-based battles, False Bodies delves into both. Importantly, the spiritual aspects of what it is to become enemies with one’s body are given centre stage in the context of Donald Winnicott’s theory of the true Self and the false Self.

The book begins by looking at some of the myths, superstitions and fairy tales related to mirrors before moving on to western society’s current obsession with appearance, which seems to have been compounded by the mass media. After looking at some of the most common manifestations of appearance-focused anguish including eating disorders and body dysmorphia, it begins to unpick the possible underlying meanings beneath such struggles with a particular emphasis on issues of a systemic nature. The latter part of the book then moves on to the spiritual element of such psychological distress including the benefits of addressing appearance-based disturbances through a transpersonal lens.

Reviews and Endorsements

False Bodies, True Selves provides an exquisite account of the descent into various appearance related disorders and the arduous, multi-dimensional road towards profound healing. Unfolding the many personal and social dimensions of appearance battles, Nicole Schnackenberg beautifully narrates relevant neuroscientific research, psychotherapeutic theory, and metaphor, as she weaves the insight of her own excruciating journey throughout the book. As a human being I am richer for having read it, and as a therapist I now possess a clearer perspective of healing as I look through the lens of Schnackenberg’s profound vision.’
- Heather Mason, Founder of the Minded Institute

‘Nicole Schnackenberg’s book is thought provoking and insightful, giving a perspective on our cult of thinness and obsession with physical appearance. The challenge of deconstructing the norms we have created as a society, and the pressures consequentially put on both men and women, is an immense one. Nicole’s consideration and ideas have given this subject a very human perspective.’
- Caroline Nokes MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image

‘This is an outstanding and comprehensive work taking a transpersonal approach to engaging with body image disorders. Destined to be a classic, Nicole Schnackenberg’s book draws upon Eastern spirituality and Western psychotherapy to open up whole new possibilities for therapists and offer hope for anyone trapped inside a prison of their perceived physicality.’
- Richard Cox, director of T!M FREKE Publications and founder of Unbreaking the Mirror

‘A beautifully written book, containing a rare combination of academic rigour and compassionate understanding. Nicole Schnackenberg takes the reader on an insightful journey integrating psychological, philosophical and spiritual understandings of appearance-related identity struggles. This is both a highly readable and inspirational book offering a deep understanding of what takes us away from our true Selves, and most importantly, providing guidance for the path back.’
- Dr Samantha Bottrill, Senior Clinical Psychologist and Yoga Therapist for Mental Health, The Maudsley Child and Adolescent Eating Disorder Service

‘Written by an author who has both personal and professional insight, this book is both stimulating and engaging to read. It is a comprehensive, articulate and uncommonly sensitive work on the important (yet still woefully neglected) topic of distress about appearance. With a broad range of historical, literary and contemporary research based references, False Bodies, True Selves is an invaluable resource for those interested in body image and who want to better understand this fundamental aspect of being human.’
- Rob Willson, Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and Chair of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation

About the Author(s)

Nicole Schnackenberg is a psychotherapist, teacher and therapeutic yoga practitioner based in Woking, Surrey. She currently divides her time between her role as a school counsellor in Guildford, her practice as a yoga therapist at Special Yoga Foundation in London, and her position as a trustee of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation. She is also working towards full accreditation in systemic family therapy and educational psychology.

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