Christian women, anorexia and theological responses: an exploration of lived experience

Stammers, Hannah Rachel ORCID: 0000-0001-7650-6751 (2021). Christian women, anorexia and theological responses: an exploration of lived experience. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis argues that, for Christian women with anorexia nervosa, there is a distinct interplay between their religious beliefs and their eating disorder. This interplay can be both negative, in the sense that religious beliefs can be interpreted so as to motivate eating disordered behaviour; or positive, in the sense that faith can motivate recovery. Furthermore, pastoral care provided by well-meaning clergy and faith groups can be either an extraordinary support to aid recovery when done well, or immensely damaging if done badly.

This thesis is based on a qualitative Grounded Theory study into the way in which Christian women understand the relationship between their faith and their eating disorders. Through semi-structured interviews with nine women, I explore their lived experiences of anorexia and Christian faith. The study was approved by an NHS Research Ethics Committee and undertaken in partnership with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust.

Several themes emerge from the narratives relating to the lived experiences of Christian women with anorexia. Of these, four key themes are explored in depth in this thesis: Anorexia: Sickness or Sin?; Images of God; Models of Christian Femininity; and Pastoral Care. Finally, this thesis responds to a gap in pastoral care practice and research by offering an initial framework which could form the basis for a model of chaplaincy care for sufferers of anorexia nervosa, both in inpatient treatment and in the community.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Theology and Religion
Funders: Other
Other Funders: University of Birmingham College of Arts and Law
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology


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