Dissertation Title:

Making Peace With the Body: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis


Kathryn Holt

Date, Time & Place:

October 5, 2021 at 9:00 am


This qualitative study focused on the journey women undergo moving from normative body discontent, which is a term that describes the common state of suffering around food and body that many women in America experience, to making peace with the body. This experience with the body is subclinical and so culturally normative that it is easy to ignore within the cacophony of concerns around the “obesity epidemic” and eating disorders. As a result, there is a noticeable dearth of psychological research on dieting and body preoccupation as a phenomenon, which is situated along the spectrum of eating and body image problems. This study utilized interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) informed by conceptualizations from Jungian psychology and feminist theory to analyze interviews from five women who identified as moving from normative body discontent to body peace. Seven supraordinate themes emerged as phases of the journey, including preconsciousness, confronting frustration, change of path, opening of mind, sensing the body, integration and stability, and growth edges. Within these phases emerged 23 subthemes. The results of the study contribute to clinicians’ understanding of how to support women in learning to inhabit their bodies fully and respectfully.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology Jungian Archetypal Studies, N, 2016
  • Chair: Dr. Stacey Shelby
  • Reader: Dr. Kesstan Blandin
  • External Reader: Dr. Anita Johnston
  • Keywords: Body Discontent, Fat Studies, Eating Disorders, Individuation, Psychotherapy, Embodiment