Anorexia: A phenomenological case-study

Course description

This research project examines the qualitative experience of an anorexic subject. The focus of the project is twofold: a) the subject’s experience of anorexia, and b) the subject’s experience of the history of treatments received. What has been the lived experience, qualitatively described from the subject’s perspective, of the symptoms and behaviors that have come to be labeled ‘anorexia’? What has been the fit between the best of professional expertise and treatment, and the individual’s experience? In recent decades phenomenology has informed much of qualitative research and supported the possibility of in-depth, individual case studies as significant resources for psychological insight. This research project will balance theoretical and methodological concerns around phenomenology as an approach, with data-collection through interview and self-report. 

As a research project, there will be a number of methodological steps.

1. Literature review. 

   a) Methodological: a basic understanding of phenomenology as a qualitative method will be developed. (As this constitutes a significant portion of the course it will be undertaken concurrently with a number of the remaining steps.)

   b) Content: The literature on anorexia is too voluminous for an exhaustive review. Some representative articles will be reviewed.

2. Formulation of research question; operationalization of research question into an interview format.

3. Data-collection.

   a) Conducting the interview(s).

   b) Transcription.

4. Phenomenological analysis of results & discussion.

5. Write-up of completed study.

Required Texts:

Burston, D., & Frie, R. (2006). Psychotherapy as a human science. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne.

Linschoten, J. (1987). On falling asleep. In J. J. Kockelmans (Ed.), Phenomenological psychology: The Dutch school (pp. 79-118). The Hague, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff.

Manen, M. van. (1997). From meaning to method. Qualitative Health Research, Vol. 7, No. 3, 345-369.

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