From biosociality to biosolidarity: the looping effects of finding and forming social networks for body-focused repetitive behaviours

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Abstract

Anthropological accounts of biosociality reveal the importance of the social relations formed through shared biomedical conditions. In the context of body-focused repetitive behaviours (BFRBs), like compulsive hair pulling (trichotillomania) and skin picking (dermatillomania), biosociality moves people from isolation towards community. After diagnosis, the powerful moment of discovering ‘you are not alone’ can lead to immense personal transformations, demonstrating the ‘looping effects’ of diagnosis and biosociality. Yet, biosocial groups do not simply exist, and must first be formed and found and their sustainability requires ongoing work and care from biosocial actors themselves. Biosociality also means different things to different people, often requiring a negotiation between secrecy and disclosure. This article acknowledges the role of stigma in biosociality, differentiating between private and public biosocial experiences. It argues that through biosociality come acts of biosolidarity, where advocacy can improve the visibility and recognition of illness groups. The circular looping effects of biosociality and biosolidarity demonstrate the way that community activism and biosociality reproduce one another. Through reflections from the anthropologist, biosolidarity is considered as a methodological tool that can help scholars to navigate the boundaries between relatedness, sociality and advocacy in the field and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalAnthropology & Medicine
VolumeLatest articles
Early online date22 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Feb 2021

Keywords

  • Body-focused repetitive behaviours
  • Biosociality
  • Biosolidarity
  • Diagnosis
  • Looping effects

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