Dr Susie Orbach presents Towards a New Theory of Body Development


The body has had a long and honoured place in psychoanalytic concepts of the mind ever since Freud pronounced that "the ego is first and foremost a bodily ego". Body and Mind are inextricably linked. Conceptualisation has centred around the individual’s inner world. The place of the interpersonal in body-mind development has been often neglected.

Susie Orbach looks at the way psychoanalysis has conceptualised the body, as the site of expression for psychological conflicts. She will argue that the body is not just a psychic vehicle for the mind but has its own psychological history which emerges out of the interpersonal. This is the mother–baby body to body relationship. Just as we understand our psyche as being the outcome of early relationships so too is the body. Our forms of embodiment reflect the way in which the body is related to from earliest life.

This paper will also include detailed case presentation and discussion to illustrate the theoretical points.

Dr Susie Orbach

Susie Orbach, is a psychoanalyst and writer. She co-founded The Women’s Therapy Centre in 1976 and The Women’s Therapy Centre Institute in New York in 1981. She sees individuals, couples and consults to organisations.

Her work on body issues spans many professional journals and books including Fat is a Feminist Issue (1978), Fat is a Feminist Issue II (1982), Hunger Strike (1986) and On Eating (2002). In addition she has written seven other books and co-edited 50 Shades of Feminism.

She has lectured in Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, throughout North America and Europe. She was Keynote Speaker at the UK Government’s Body Image Summit in London, June 2000, and the Vienna Body Image conference in December 2000, 2003 and 2007. She spoke on the body at the UN Commission on the Status of Women in February 2012.

She is Chair of The Relational School and a founder member of Psychotherapists for Social Responsibility. She has been a consultant to the World Bank and the National Health Service. She is UK convenor of the campaign for body diversity www.any-body.co.uk and www.london.endangeredbodies.org

She has a PhD from University College London, was given an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of New York Stony Brook, made a Doctor of the University of Essex, a Doctor of Science from Metropolitan University and a Doctor of Philosophy from University of East London.