“When someone is disordered in their eating often what you find is that they’ve been a kid who has learned to have radar for the feelings of other people. Whether it’s a family where the kid can’t express their emotions and parents’ emotions rule, that kid has learned to look to the outside to figure out who she should be. So of course, in our culture that means that they looked to the scale, they looked to Instagram, but when it comes to sexuality it’s the same thing. This isn’t a matter of they’re having their own feelings that they are conflicted about – they are looking to the outside world to see what they can paste on in terms of whom they are supposed to be. They don’t have a sense of their sexuality. They don’t have a sense of their hunger. And if you don’t have a sense of what you are hungry for with food, how can you possibly have a sense of what you are hungry for with sex.” 

Episode Description: We begin by describing the tendency for eating-disordered individuals to block out their internal experiences. As a result, it is often those who are external but caring about the struggling person who develops strong feelings about their difficulties. We discuss three common clinical situations and unpack the observations of those who are interested in the patient and what may be going on in the inner life of the symptomatic individual. We consider perfectionism, good/bad thinking, individuation and sexuality, and the importance of the therapist-patient relationship as the vehicle to discover inner-derived identity and desire.

Our Guest: Judith Brisman, Ph.D. was the Founding Director of the Eating Disorder Resource Center in Manhattan for over 35 years. She is co-author of Surviving an Eating Disorder: Strategies for Family and Friends (now in its 4th edition), is an associate editor of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, and is on the editorial board of the journal Eating Disorders. She is a member of the teaching faculty at the William Alanson White Institute and she maintains a private practice in New York City. Dr. Brisman is known internationally as among the first in her field to develop a treatment program for bulimic patients. She has published and lectured extensively regarding the interpersonal treatment of eating disorders.

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