Eating Disorders and Magical Control of the Body: Treatment by Mary Levens

By Mary Levens

Individuals with consuming issues usually make desparate makes an attempt to exert magical keep watch over over their our bodies according to the threats they skilled in relationships. Mary Levens takes the reader into the world of magical pondering and its impact on principles approximately consuming and the physique via a delicate exploration of the pictures sufferers create in artwork remedy, within which topics of cannibalism continuously recur. Drawing on anthropology, faith and literature in addition to psychoanalysis, she discusses the importance of those photographs and their implications for remedy of sufferers with consuming issues.

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Extra info for Eating Disorders and Magical Control of the Body: Treatment Through Art Therapy

Sample text

Voluntary abstinence from food is a common religious tradition. It is a means to liberate the self from selfish and materialistic concerns, a concrete purification of body and soul. Both Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, and the Christian period of Lent invite fasting or restriction for the purpose of atonement or penitence. Abstaining from food may also achieve empowerment. In ancient Japan a man could humiliate his enemy by ‘fasting against him’, or starving on his doorstep. In India Gandhi refused to take food during his struggle for the independence of India.

To quote the heroine of Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood: ‘The war between myself and my mother was on in earnest; the disputed territory was my body’ (Atwood 1982). The point at issue is: who owns the anorectic’s body, and so who has the power to put things in it, either by feeding or by influence? For many patients, the potential catastrophe involved in submitting to the will of another necessitates a controlling of all interactions. At stake is the autonomy, the existence, of the person as an individual.

Laing (1960) describes in his book The Divided Self? Palazzoli suggests that these patients are highly embodied from the start and that this is partially the cause of their unhappiness. Schizophrenics on the other hand have a body schema which is disturbed precisely because they do not experience their body as their own. The psychotic person has an ever-changing experience of parts of his/her body. Without awareness, he/she exists out of the body, in fragments. The patient with an eating disorder at least has the notion of her body as a container and the less disturbed eating-disordered patient has some consistent experience of a body.

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