Anorexia Nervosa: Illusion in the Sense of Agency (2022)

Mind and Language 38 (2):480-494 (2023)
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This is a preprint draft. Please cite published version (DOI: 10.1111/mila.12385). The aim of this paper is to provide a novel analysis of anorexia nervosa (AN) in the context of the sense of agency literature. I first show that two accounts of anorexia nervosa that we ought to take seriously— i.e., the first personal reports of those who have experienced it firsthand as well as the research that seeks to explain anorexic behavior from an empirical perspective— appear to be thoroughly in tension with one another in their descriptions of anorexic actions. Rather than proceeding at this point by way of disregarding anorexic testimony as meaningless or insincere, I instead offer a positive account of the sense of agency in anorexia nervosa that renders these two depictions compatible. The resultant picture of anorexic behavior is one that accommodates current empirical findings while also providing valuable insight into how it is that anorexics can sincerely report feeling fully in control over their food restriction.

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Amanda Evans
Washington University in St. Louis


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