Creating Beauty To Cure the Soul: Race and Psychology in the Shaping of Aesthetic Surgery

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9780822321118: Creating Beauty To Cure the Soul: Race and Psychology in the Shaping of Aesthetic Surgery

Why do physicians who’ve taken the Hippocratic Oath willingly cut into seemingly healthy patients? How do you measure the success of surgery aimed at making someone happier by altering his or her body? Sander L. Gilman explores such questions in Creating Beauty to Cure the Soul, a cultural history of the connections between beauty of body and happiness of mind. Following these themes through an impressive range of historical moments and players, Gilman traces how aesthetic alterations of the body have been used to “cure” dissatisfied states of mind.
In his exploration of the striking parallels between the development of cosmetic surgery and the field of psychiatry, Gilman entertains an array of philosophical and psychological questions that underlie the more practical decisions rountinely made by doctors and potential patients considering these types of surgery. While surveying and incorporating the relevant theories of Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Karl Menninger, Paul Schilder, contemporary feminist critics, and others, Gilman considers the highly unstable nature of cultural notions of health, happiness, and beauty. He reveals how ideas of race and gender structured early understandings of aesthetic surgery in discussions of both the “abnormality” of the Jewish nose and the historical requirement that healthy and virtuous females look “normal,” thereby enabling them to achieve invisibility. Reflecting upon historically widespread prejudices, Gilman describes the persecutions, harrassment, attacks, and even murders that continue to result from bodily difference and he encourages readers to question the cultural assumptions that underlie the increasing acceptability of this surgical form of psychotherapy.
Synthesizing a vast body of related literature and containing a comprehensive bibliography, Creating Beauty to Cure the Soul will appeal to a broad audience, including those interested in the histories of medicine and psychiatry, and in philosophy, cultural studies, Jewish cultural studies, and race and ethnicity.


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If the soul is descending, lift the face! This remarkably powerful and troubling idea, in which medical aestheticians minister to the psyche by bringing their scalpels to a body that lacks all sickness, has a long history. By tracing that history in this scholarly monograph, Sander L. Gilman seeks to uncover another history: that of our changing attitudes to the significance of beauty.

Although Gilman does so by meandering through a variety of fields with momentary losses of focus, he generally maintains a strong emphasis on the relationship between the aesthetics of the human and the science of psychology, with substantial sections on Willhelm Fliess, Alfred Adler, and, of course, Freud. This, in turn, provokes a discussion of the relationship between physiognomy and racism, especially 19th century anti-Semitism. Gilman ultimately traces back to Homer the idea that beauty is goodness, and ugliness the signature of corruption: in the Iliad, Achilles the hero was handsome, like all heroes, while the ugliest man in his army, Thersites, was assumed to be morally vicious. Although modern artists are more subtle in their deployment of the theme, they have not given up on it entirely. Gilman's academic writing style does lead to occasional outbreaks of flatness and abstraction, but his subject matter is interesting. --Richard Farr

About the Author:

Sander L. Gilman is Henry R. Luce Professor of the Liberal Arts in Human Biology, Professor and Chair of the Department of Germanic Studies, and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Chicago. He is the author or editor of over fifty books, including Freud, Race, and Gender; The Jew’s Body; and Disease and Representation: Images of Illness from Madness to AIDS.

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Gilman, Sander L.
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Book Description Duke University Press, United States, 1998. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 234 x 157 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Why do physicians who ve taken the Hippocratic Oath willingly cut into seemingly healthy patients? How do you measure the success of surgery aimed at making someone happier by altering his or her body? Sander L. Gilman explores such questions in Creating Beauty to Cure the Soul, a cultural history of the connections between beauty of body and happiness of mind. Following these themes through an impressive range of historical moments and players, Gilman traces how aesthetic alterations of the body have been used to cure dissatisfied states of mind. In his exploration of the striking parallels between the development of cosmetic surgery and the field of psychiatry, Gilman entertains an array of philosophical and psychological questions that underlie the more practical decisions rountinely made by doctors and potential patients considering these types of surgery. While surveying and incorporating the relevant theories of Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Karl Menninger, Paul Schilder, contemporary feminist critics, and others, Gilman considers the highly unstable nature of cultural notions of health, happiness, and beauty. He reveals how ideas of race and gender structured early understandings of aesthetic surgery in discussions of both the abnormality of the Jewish nose and the historical requirement that healthy and virtuous females look normal, thereby enabling them to achieve invisibility. Reflecting upon historically widespread prejudices, Gilman describes the persecutions, harrassment, attacks, and even murders that continue to result from bodily difference and he encourages readers to question the cultural assumptions that underlie the increasing acceptability of this surgical form of psychotherapy. Synthesizing a vast body of related literature and containing a comprehensive bibliography, Creating Beauty to Cure the Soul will appeal to a broad audience, including those interested in the histories of medicine and psychiatry, and in philosophy, cultural studies, Jewish cultural studies, and race and ethnicity. Bookseller Inventory # AAJ9780822321118

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Book Description Duke University Press, United States, 1998. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 234 x 157 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Why do physicians who ve taken the Hippocratic Oath willingly cut into seemingly healthy patients? How do you measure the success of surgery aimed at making someone happier by altering his or her body? Sander L. Gilman explores such questions in Creating Beauty to Cure the Soul, a cultural history of the connections between beauty of body and happiness of mind. Following these themes through an impressive range of historical moments and players, Gilman traces how aesthetic alterations of the body have been used to cure dissatisfied states of mind. In his exploration of the striking parallels between the development of cosmetic surgery and the field of psychiatry, Gilman entertains an array of philosophical and psychological questions that underlie the more practical decisions rountinely made by doctors and potential patients considering these types of surgery. While surveying and incorporating the relevant theories of Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Karl Menninger, Paul Schilder, contemporary feminist critics, and others, Gilman considers the highly unstable nature of cultural notions of health, happiness, and beauty. He reveals how ideas of race and gender structured early understandings of aesthetic surgery in discussions of both the abnormality of the Jewish nose and the historical requirement that healthy and virtuous females look normal, thereby enabling them to achieve invisibility. Reflecting upon historically widespread prejudices, Gilman describes the persecutions, harrassment, attacks, and even murders that continue to result from bodily difference and he encourages readers to question the cultural assumptions that underlie the increasing acceptability of this surgical form of psychotherapy. Synthesizing a vast body of related literature and containing a comprehensive bibliography, Creating Beauty to Cure the Soul will appeal to a broad audience, including those interested in the histories of medicine and psychiatry, and in philosophy, cultural studies, Jewish cultural studies, and race and ethnicity. Bookseller Inventory # AAJ9780822321118

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Book Description Duke University Press. Hardback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, Creating Beauty to Cure the Soul: Race and Psychology in the Shaping of Aesthetic Surgery, Sander L. Gilman, Why do physicians who've taken the Hippocratic Oath willingly cut into seemingly healthy patients? How do you measure the success of surgery aimed at making someone happier by altering his or her body? Sander L. Gilman explores such questions in Creating Beauty to Cure the Soul, a cultural history of the connections between beauty of body and happiness of mind. Following these themes through an impressive range of historical moments and players, Gilman traces how aesthetic alterations of the body have been used to "cure" dissatisfied states of mind. In his exploration of the striking parallels between the development of cosmetic surgery and the field of psychiatry, Gilman entertains an array of philosophical and psychological questions that underlie the more practical decisions routinely made by doctors and potential patients considering these types of surgery. While surveying and incorporating the relevant theories of Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Karl Menninger, Paul Schilder, contemporary feminist critics, and others, Gilman considers the highly unstable nature of cultural notions of health, happiness, and beauty. He reveals how ideas of race and gender structured early understandings of aesthetic surgery in discussions of both the "abnormality" of the Jewish nose and the historical requirement that healthy and virtuous females look "normal," thereby enabling them to achieve invisibility. Reflecting upon historically widespread prejudices, Gilman describes the persecutions, harassment, attacks, and even murders that continue to result from bodily difference and he encourages readers to question the cultural assumptions that underlie the increasing acceptability of this surgical form of psychotherapy. Synthesising a vast body of related literature and containing a comprehensive bibliography, Creating Beauty to Cure the Soul will appeal to a broad audience, including those interested in the histories of medicine and psychiatry, and in philosophy, cultural studies, Jewish cultural studies, and race and ethnicity. Bookseller Inventory # B9780822321118

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