This chapter focuses on an interpersonal/relational psychodynamic approach to working with eating disorders (EDs), which illuminates the links between symptom and meaning, action and words, isolation and relatedness. The work of any treatment of EDs is an ongoing, complicated mixture of direct intervention with the symptom and exploration of what the intervention means to the patient, including the role the symptom plays in the patient’s intrapsychic and interpersonal world. Understanding this as it unfolds relationally allows the intersubjective experience of both patient and therapist to collide, mingle, and ultimately coexist. Thinking about working with patients with EDs from this vantage point means that the experience of conflict is a therapeutic gain, not obstacle. Multiplicity and the capacity for dissociation are seen as part of the manifestations of what happens with patients with EDs.
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Hypnosis relates to when a person’s behavior shows he or she is in a trance like frame of mind, dissociated from his or her usual conscious awareness. Hypnosis challenges the polarization between the different aims of behavioral and analytical therapy. The reports of many of the patient shows the real source of their distress, and sometimes seem to make the problem worse. This has been eloquently expressed by a young doctor, a survivor of childhood anorexia. “When you live with anorexia, you fight your own thoughts and fears, your own self, every second of every minute of the day. Recognizing this spontaneous hypnosis or trance state as a clinical sign involves a different level of listening skills, a modified approach to history taking and to all the advice given. The focus of therapy is turned from the past to the future from regression to progression.
- Go to chapter: The Many Faces of Eating Disorders: Anorexia Nervosa (AN), Bulimia Nervosa (BN), Binge Eating Disorder (BED), Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED), Bulimarexia, and Orthorexia
The Many Faces of Eating Disorders: Anorexia Nervosa (AN), Bulimia Nervosa (BN), Binge Eating Disorder (BED), Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED), Bulimarexia, and Orthorexia
Feeding and eating disorders (EDs) are severe mental illnesses. This chapter gives a concise overview regarding EDs, their diagnostic configuration, and comorbidity with other mental illnesses. Moreover, the focus included vulnerability and psychological aspects of EDs, with particular attention given to the impact of dysfunctional attachment dynamics and relational trauma on the onset of each type of ED. The chapter covers EDs such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED). Types of EDs also included those that are not present in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM-5), but are frequently found in clinical practice. Such disorders (e.g., bulimarexia or orthorexia) are symptomatological manifestations that require further investigation to clarify risk factors related to their onset and to shed light on their mechanism of action.
This chapter explores the neurological link between trauma and eating disorders (EDs) by describing one of humans’ basic functions: response to stressors. Adverse life events interact with the genome and developmental processes, leading to biological changes that predispose one to a broad range of psychiatric problems, including EDs. The mechanisms involved include abnormalities in the stress response, changes in appetite, altered reward sensitivity, and increased sensitivity to rejection. Specific genes increase one’s susceptibility to stressful experiences, and stressful experiences have the ability to alter one’s genes (i.e., epigenetics). Epigenetics refers to the way in which environmental exposures have the capacity to influence the genome in a way that affects later gene expression. Findings from epigenetic research and neural-based interventions offer evidence against the long-standing understanding of genes and neurocircuitry as “rigid” structures.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative, client-centered psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro, PhD, in 1987. EMDR engages the natural information processing systems in the brain to process disturbing life experiences that are, according to Shapiro, the bases of pathological behaviors. The Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model was developed by Francine Shapiro to explain the effects of EMDR therapy; guide case conceptualization, treatment planning, and interventions; and predict treatment outcomes. The AIP model assumes that both pathology and health are the development of early life experiences that are stored in neurobiological memory networks. Early life experiences, therefore, are the building blocks of perception, attitudes, and behaviors. Neurobiologically speaking, our life experiences get translated into physically stored memories on which we rely to guide us in life choices and interpretations.
This chapter presents a guide for assessing comorbid eating disorders (EDs) and trauma in a way that shapes and directs treatment. It draws together a combination of assessment tools and principles from the fields of EDs, trauma, and generic mental health, as there is limited literature available on this specific area of assessment. The chapter summarizes various aspects of assessment into distinct sets of guidelines, to help steer the clinician and client through a vast maze of information toward a meaningful formulation and treatment plan. It provides a road map to facilitate comprehensive assessments that lead to the construction of insightful formulations and the delivery of engaging treatment plans. The authors believe that trauma-informed ED assessment guides safe and effective treatment, shining a beacon of light on the road toward transformation and healing.