Writers, scientists, ethicists and medical practitioners explore our obsession with physical perfection

In the fourth edition of Griffith REVIEW: Making Perfect Bodies some of Australia’s leading writers, scientists, ethicists and medical practitioners explore our relentless obsession with physical perfection.

Editor Julianne Schultz said our desire to live longer and defy the ravages of time has spawned new “industries” and sparked debates about the use of resources and, ultimately, raised questions about our rights over our bodies – and over ourselves.

“The health system lurches from crisis to crisis and millions of people literally eat themselves to death despite this preoccupation with physical perfection,” Dr Schultz said.

“This quest for perfection and its potential realisation go to the heart of who we are and what we might be.

“The consequences are much more profound than most of us have begun to grasp. It is a long journey from the promise of genetic science to the reality of obesity but our obsession with physical perfection has never been greater or more likely to deliver profound changes.”

The capacity of doctors and medical science to understand what ails us and to devise treatments that work is a relatively new phenomenon as Robyn Williams, Michael F. Good, Charles Watson, Sam Tormey and others write. Griffith REVIEW: Making Perfect Bodies, explores future challenges, although as Michael Wilding writes the patient is sometimes reluctant.

“Essays in Griffith REVIEW: Making Perfect Bodies cover ethical and political issues associated with control of our bodies, use of DNA and the creation of perfect babies. Personal stories explore aging, ‘addiction’ to plastic surgery, life with an autistic child, Olympic achievement, DNA in jail and a child’s life-changing craniofacial surgery,” Dr Schultz said.

Donald Horne explores aging, Paul Chadwick calls for urgent attention to genetic privacy, John Menadue presents a new diagnosis of the failings in the hospital system, Melissa Lucashenko describes conflicting views of indigenous bodies, Stephanie Short and Elspeth Probyn provide new insights into obesity, while Inez Baranay and John Carmody explore the links between art and health.

Griffith REVIEW is published quarterly by Griffith University and ABC Books

Books available June 5, 2004, (RRP $16.95) from
ABC Shops, ABC Centres, selected bookstores,
online at abcshop.com.au or for home delivery phone 1300 360 111.

See www.griffith.edu.au/griffithreview

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