This book is about the relationship between social psychology and the body. It starts from the assumption that questions to do with the body are of paramount importance for an understanding of social life. At first sight, this is a noncontentious statement to make, and yet a moment's thought shows that social psychology has had very little to say about this subject to date. Why should this be? Is it because the boundaries of the discipline have been drawn very tightly, focusing exclusively upon such things as attitudes and groups? Is it, perhaps, because the body suggests a field of study best left to biologists and physicians? Or is it because social psychology is well advised to steer clear of problems that draw us back from the social toward what are seen as the biological and the prehistory of our discipline? These were some of the questions that were in my mind when 1 decided to write this book. In addition, I was influenced by the experience of researching in the area of chronic illness. There is nothing quite like life threatening disease to point up mortality and the issues that arise from having to live with the constraints of one's body. Looking for theoretical ideas to help with this work led me to read in the literature of medical sociology.