Engendering Moments of Choice: Healing Dissociation Within Disordered Eating Syndromes

Pare, Gaile (2012) Engendering Moments of Choice: Healing Dissociation Within Disordered Eating Syndromes. Doctoral thesis, Meridian University.

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Abstract

Eating disorders research is extensive but primarily focuses on treatment and outcomes. Instead, this study investigated women‘s phenomenological and imaginal experience of dissociation within eating disorders. The Research Problem was: How does engagement in reflexive dialogue with the compassionate and objective psyche during or following dissociative eating episodes impact imaginal structures related to disordered eating syndromes? The Research Hypothesis was: Reflexive dialogue with the compassionate and objective psyche enables women with disordered eating syndromes to increase awareness of imaginal structures related to self-hate and self-punishment, increase access to self-compassion, and thereby develop or strengthen the capacity for choice in relation to eating behavior. The Literature Review provides an overview of theories and studies on eating disorders from psychodynamic, trauma and dissociation, and imaginal and archetypal perspectives. Yet, substantial gaps exist in the research, especially qualitative studies examining the phenomenological and imaginal experience of dissociation within eating disorders. v The methodology for this study was Imaginal Inquiry. Guided visualization, reflexive dialogue with images, and artwork evoked experience of the compassionate and objective psyche for seven participants. The study‘s Cumulative Learning states that the capacity to move from dissociative eating behavior to aware decision-making is engendered by evocation of, and reflexive engagement with, the compassionate and objective psyche. Four Learnings emerged. First, group work in which passionate objectivity is expressed by those with dissociative eating behavior facilitates a shift away from pervasive loneliness and isolation toward internal awareness of and connection to the compassionate and objective psyche. Second, by paralyzing the capacity for reflexivity and inciting dissociative eating behavior, self-hating and self-punishing imaginal structures perpetuate the adaptive identity of the eating disordered self. Third, practices evoking the compassionate and objective psyche empower disidentification from the adaptive identity of the eating disordered self. Fourth, increased recognition of and engagement with the compassionate and objective psyche engenders the capacity for choice in relation to eating behavior. The fairytale Beauty and the Beast was used as a mythological mirror to show the potential for identity transformation through rebuilding the conscious capacity for choice. Restoration of choice carries potential for transforming attitudes toward women and the Earth.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Psychology > Critical Theory
Depositing User: Gail Pare
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2017 21:50
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2017 21:50
URI: http://scholarship.meridianuniversity.edu/id/eprint/122

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