WHEN WORDS FAIL AND BODIES SPEAK:
Psychoanalytic Treatment of Eating Disorders
This course will examine psychoanalytic conceptualization and treatment of eating disorders. We will explore these complex and confounding syndromes through multiple lenses: as failures of thought, with unthinkable thoughts becoming stuck in the body; as complex compromise formations tied to early relational experiences; as autistic defenses against intolerable anxieties; as dissociative disorders linked to early experiences of trauma and affect dysregulation; and as disorders of desire and clandestine love affairs marked by anticipation, excitement, secrecy, and disappointment, leaving emptiness in their wake. We will attend to the importance of gender, culture, and the role of the therapist’s body in the treatment situation throughout.
NCSPP is aware that historically psychoanalysis has either excluded or pathologized groups outside of the dominant population in terms of age, race, ethnicity, nationality, language, gender, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, disability, and size. As an organization, we are committed to bringing awareness to matters of anti-oppression, inequity, inequality, diversity, and inclusion as they pertain to our educational offerings, our theoretical orientation, our community, and the broader world we all inhabit.
Our relationship to food and the body is inextricably intertwined with our familial and cultural surround. Research has shown, for example, that certain aspects of Western culture, such as advertising and the "ideal" of thinness, contribute to weight consciousness and, by extension, disordered eating. Even within Western culture, though, there is tremendous variance among cultural sub-groups regarding the meanings attributed to food, nourishment, weight, and body shape. It is my hope that in this seminar these issues will be discussed and that each participant's background and experience will contribute to the shaping of a fruitful and expansive conversation.
At the end of this course participants will be able to:
- Discuss the central concepts in psychoanalytic thinking about the mind-body continuum and how those can be used as a lens for understanding the eating disordered patient’s struggle.
- Describe how eating disorders can be understood from an object relations perspective, that is, as shaped by early relational experiences that have been internalized and now organize and give meaning to experiences in the present.
- Explain how eating disordered symptomatology can serve as an autistic defense (i.e., as an aspect of mental functioning characterized by somatosensuous, protomental experience) within the personality of a non-autistic adult.
- Discuss how eating disorders can be understood through the lens of affect regulation theory, dissociation and multiple self-states.
- Examine psychoanalytic thinking about agency and desire and apply these ideas to the conceptualization of patient’s struggles with food and appetite.
- Discuss the ways in which psychoanalytic theories of gender development illuminate the experience of eating disorders and body image concerns in both male and female patients.
- Howard Steiger (2017) Evidence-informed practices in the real-world treatment of people with eating disorders, Eating Disorders, 25:2, 173-181, DOI: 10.1080/10640266.2016.1269558
- Moulton, S. J., Newman, E., Power, K., Swanson, V., & Day, K. (2015). Childhood trauma and eating psychopathology: A mediating role for dissociation and emotion dysregulation?. Child abuse & neglect, 39, 167-174.
- Psychodynamic psychotherapy for children and adolescents: a critical review of the evidence base by Midgely, N. & E. Kennedy (2011). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, vol 37 (3).
- Thompson-Brenner, H, J. Weingeroff and D. Westen (2009). Empirical Support for Psychodynamic Psychotherapy for Eating Disorders. Handbook of Evidence-Based Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.Ed. by R. A. Levy and J. S. Ablon.Springer Science + Business Media, 67–92. doi: 10.1007/978-1-59745-444-5_4.
- Abbass, A, S. Kisely and K. Kroenke (2009). Short-Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy for Somatic Disorders. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 78(5), 265–274. doi: 10.1159/000228247.
- Cheng, Anne Anlin. “American Racial Grief, a Reprisal.” Huffington Post, March 16, 2016. Accessed June 3, 2016. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-a -cheng/american-racial-grief-a-r_b_9467348.html.
Tom Wooldridge, Psy.D., ABPP, is a psychoanalyst, board-certified clinical psychologist, and associate professor at Golden Gate University. He has published two books: Understanding Anorexia Nervosa in Males and Psychoanalytic Treatment of Eating Disorders (Relational Perspectives Book Series), in addition to numerous articles on a wide range of topics. He is in private practice in Berkeley.
This is an intermediate course for clinicians with moderate to extensive exposure to the psychoanalytic literature. It is appropriate for clinicians of all levels of clinical experience.
LCSW/MFTs: Course meets the requirements for 9 hours of continuing education credit for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs and/or LEPS, as required by the CA Board of Behavioral Sciences. NCSPP is approved by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (Provider Number 57020), to sponsor continuing education for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCS, and/or LEPs. NCSPP maintains responsibility for this program /course and its content.
Psychologists: Division 39 is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Division 39 maintains responsibility for these programs and their content.
Enrollees who cancel at least SEVEN DAYS prior to the event date will receive a refund minus a $35 administrative charge. No refunds will be allowed after this time. Transfer of registrations are not allowed.