The Enigma of Ana: A Psychoanalytic Exploration of Pro-Anorexia Internet Forums

  title={The Enigma of Ana: A Psychoanalytic Exploration of Pro-Anorexia Internet Forums},
  author={Tom Wooldridge},
  journal={Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy},
  pages={202 - 216}
  • Tom Wooldridge
  • Published 3 July 2014
  • Psychology
  • Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy
In the form of chat rooms, newsgroups, and websites, pro-anorexia has emerged in recent years as a cultural movement in cyberspace that takes an at least partially positive attitude toward anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders. The empirical literature has documented both the harm and potential benefit that these forums offer participants. To date, however, pro-ana forums have not been theorized in the psychoanalytic literature. In this article, I make use of both a clinical case and… 

The Enigma of Ana: Lost or Found in Cyberspace?

In his article “The Enigma of Ana: A Psychoanalytic Exploration of Pro-Anorexia Internet Forums,” Dr. Tom Wooldridge highlights the positive, transitional potential of cyber communities, specifically

A comparison between pro-anorexia and non-suicidal self-injury blogs: From symptom-based identity to sharing of emotions

From a psychodynamic perspective, this paper presents a comparison between pro-anorexia (pro-Ana) and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) blogs, which are all built on the basis of a shared,

Neoliberalism, Pro-ana/mia Websites, and Pathologizing Women: Using Performance Ethnography to Challenge Psychocentrism

Key terms such as “pro-ana,” “pro-anorexia,” and “pro-ED” are searched for on the Internet over 13 million times annually. These searches lead to web pages and social media sites where pro-anorexia

The Entropic Body: Primitive Anxieties and Secondary Skin Formation in Anorexia Nervosa

This paper develops a metapsychological view of anorexia nervosa, including not only its symptomatic presentation but also its etiology and characteristic psychic and relational styles. Because

Now I See You, Now I Don’t: Screen Services, Short Stature, and the Fear of Being Seen

As psychoanalysts venture into the online world, they are confronted with both anxiety and opportunity. In this paper, I attempt to add to our collective thinking about the perils and potentials of

Anorexia Nervosa, Psychic Death, and the Subjugation of Need

ABSTRACT The entropic body is a body-state that develops against a background of early trauma in which the environment has failed to regulate the child’s anxiety, leaving her unable to regulate her

Psychodynamic Importance of “Cyber” and “In the Flesh” Friends in Psychotherapy with College-Aged Adolescents with Eating Disorders

ABSTRACT It is well established that friends are an important part of child and adolescent emotional and psychological development (Erikson, 1980/1959; Kohut, 1971; Rubin et al., 2004; Sroufe et al.,

Food semantics on pro-anorexia websites in Italy.

A qualitative and quantitative analysis of foods contained in a linguistic corpus made up of users' comments on pro-ana websites shows conversations regarding beverages, products of vegetable origin (fruit, vegetables) and low-calorie foods, with a tendency to limit the fear linked to the choice of high-Calorie foods through reassuring and reconcilable language labels.

Immigration panics, borders and eating disorders

This paper maps some dynamics of eating disorders against those of recent panics about immigration and current calls for greater border and immigration controls. Building on psychoanalytic thinking



Content Analysis of Male Participation in Pro-Eating Disorder Web Sites

A qualitative content analysis of male participation in pro-ana forums is conducted, highlighting themes of social support, community appreciation, and ambivalence, as well as themes that appear to be particular to the male experience of eating disorders, such as alienation and teasing.

Constructing identities in cyberspace: the case of eating disorders.

  • D. Giles
  • Sociology
    The British journal of social psychology
  • 2006
The analysis examines several 'pro-ana' sites and explores the way in which the identity is used to police the boundaries of the community, and ultimately, what it means 'to be ana' rather than 'mia' (bulimic), 'a normal', 'a faker', or even 'a hater'.

Understanding the experience of ambivalence in anorexia nervosa: the maintainer's perspective

The experiences and understandings of those who wish to maintain their anorexia are investigated and how these understandings may affect their treatment experiences are looked at.

What does viewing a pro-anorexia website do? An experimental examination of website exposure and moderating effects.

Results provide an empirical basis for concern (expressed by clinicians, researchers, the media) that pro-anorexia websites are a troubling new form of thin-ideal exposure that warrants further examination.

Decisional balance in anorexia nervosa: capitalizing on ambivalence

The psychometric properties of the DB scale for anorexia nervosa demonstrated good convergent and discriminant validity, and the clinical implications for enhancing readiness to change are addressed.

On the concept of an autistic-contiguous position.

  • T. Ogden
  • Psychology
    The International journal of psycho-analysis
  • 1989
The idea of an autistic-contiguous position is proposed as a way of conceptualizing a psychological organization more primitive than either the paranoid-schizoid or the depressive position.


abstract  Absence is characteristic of the psychotherapy of many different types of psychological disorder. However, it is perhaps particularly significant in the psychotherapy of anorexia nervosa. I

Viewership of pro-anorexia websites in seventh, ninth and eleventh graders.

In girls, visiting pro-anorexia websites was associated with a higher drive for thinness, worse perception of appearance and more perfectionism, and the significant correlations between viewership of pro-ana sites and predictors of AN suggest a potential for negative impact of exposure to pro-ANA sites.

Reflections on some dynamics of eating disorders: 'no entry' defences and foreign bodies.

  • G. Williams
  • Psychology
    The International journal of psycho-analysis
  • 1997
The main focus of the clinical exploration in this paper is the predicament of 'porous' patients, those who remain open to parental projections, and suggests that in such cases the introjection of an object performing a function opposite to organising 'alpha function' can be hypothesised.

Pro-eating disorder websites: users' opinions.

  • E. CsipkeOuti Horne
  • Psychology
    European eating disorders review : the journal of the Eating Disorders Association
  • 2007
Visitors who interacted with others on the 'pro-eating disorder' websites and sought emotional support reported improved mental state after visiting, and for them, evidence was found of reduced impact from potentially damaging content.