What's Hungry? Robot Living and the Abduction of Innocence: A Woman's Journey Into the Underworld of Eating Disorders

Webber, Tari (2011) What's Hungry? Robot Living and the Abduction of Innocence: A Woman's Journey Into the Underworld of Eating Disorders. Doctoral thesis, Meridian University.


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This study explores the dynamics of eating disorder in relation to trauma, loss, and unmet needs through the case of a 23 year-old woman who sought treatment in an intensive outpatient eating disorder program. She was referred for therapy following hospitalization for suicidal ideation and acute depression and was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa with episodes of binge eating and purging. This study tracks the client’s consequent therapeutic journey. The literature reviewed and referenced herein surveys resources from Biological, Cognitive Behavioral, Psychodynamic, Sociocultural, and Humanistic perspectives, and Imaginal Approaches to the topic of eating disorders. Included is an overview of relevant research and theory on trauma, family relationships, perfectionism, and self-damaging behaviors. Marion Woodman’s discussion about the tendency for women to seek perfection related to body image is a significant key principle in this study. Also important are Donald Kalsched’s discussion on trauma, Kim Chernin’s thinking about mother-daughter relationships and hunger, and Angela Favarro’s view of the relationship between rape and eating disorders. The therapeutic process assisted the client in addressing the suppression of life force and compulsions for perfection and self-deprivation that dominated her daily living. vi She discovered hidden, denied parts of her psyche that had driven her to suicidal thoughts and physical collapse. Using cognitive behavioral, narrative, somatic, and art therapy methods, we journeyed together to the murky inner depths where hopes and dreams were buried in fear and shame. Major learnings were related to identifying that the client denied herself love, food, nurturing, acceptance, and awareness of her deeper feelings which in turn created an insatiable hunger. She had been trapped by internal survival defenses against trauma and loss. Her body hungered for nourishment, her heart for love, and her soul for expression. This disconnect was initiated by two traumatic incidents which brought about abrupt endings to childhood innocence as she became isolated in silent suffering with shame and guilt as her companions. While her heart recoiled from love and its potential for pain, her body languished from lack of food and the vital emotionally energized connection to her soul. This study concludes with reflections about the client as well as the topic. The client’s compulsive, robotic lifestyle signified the urgency of her need for safety through relentless control of her internal and external environments. She needed to reconnect the separated parts of herself in order to transform the unbearable and dangerous dynamics of her life. Her journey called on both mothering and fathering capacities of the therapists to establish a safe container for this painful process and the guidance and direction necessary to support the retrieval of the soul.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Psychology > Critical Theory
Depositing User: Tari Webber
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2017 21:50
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2017 21:50
URI: http://scholarship.meridianuniversity.edu/id/eprint/126

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