Through a glass darkly. The place of psychoanalysis in the treatment of Anorexia Nervosa in women

No Thumbnail Available
Keating, Mary
Issue Date
MA in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
Items in Esource are protected by copyright. Previously published items are made available in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/copyright holder.
"I look at other girls and I think, they are thinner than me, even if I know that I am really thin, so thin that here I am in hospital being fed through my nose. But they are just thinner and I'll never be as thin as them." Cora, an 18-year-old girl suffering from anorexia describes her image of herself as, never thin enough. Anorexia Nervosa could be described as a dis-ease that is "suffered" by the people who surround the anorexic and sometimes not by the actual person herself. When the anorexic is in the grip of the disease it is difficult to look at her, as her appearance provokes anger, irritation, lack of sympathy and many other feelings of un-ease within the observer. She remains adamant. She doesn't ask for anything; she doesn't need anything, she has no question and no desires. She does have determination however and her determination is mad, absolute and not open to discussion. It is the determination to reduce the image of her body to a sort of zero degree, whatever the cost ...... In fact at the beginning, she denies suffering at all, and paradoxically experiences her lightness as well-being, contrary to any clinical or aesthetic opinion. The place of psychoanalysis in the treatment of anorexia nervosa is not widely acknowledged, in fact it is often viewed as not at all appropriate. This thesis proposes that psychoanalysis is an appropriate if not the most appropriate therapeutic intervention that can be made with the anorectic. Through an exploration of some key Freudian and Lacanian concepts and together with some clinical examples, this thesis will attempt to identify why the psychoanalytic discourse, in its placement of the unconscious at the centre of the treatment, can provide a place for the anorexic to speak.