Mary was in front of the pizza, she really wanted it and was very hungry. As a young teen, her body suddenly asked for more calories than before. But she knew the rules of decency dictated by her mother: do not eat more than half. Her mother was not in the restaurant.
There were children my age at the next table, all of whom ate a whole pizza. My dad told me “whatever you want”, he didn’t care about those rules. I was so afraid of my mother’s reaction and her anger
She knew her mother would ask what she ate and how much, her father would say he didn’t remember her. But Mary could not lie.
Today, Mary has come to see me cure her bulimia and at the same time takes a step back and asserts herself in the face of the peremptory and unjust orders of her mother who has imposed her view on food without taking into account her daughter’s point of view. opinion and feelings.
This type of trauma is relatively easy to treat. Since the discovery of mirror neurons, we know that experiencing, witnessing, and imagining this experience involves the same physical reaction, opening the door to new therapeutic perspectives where we can imagine a previous traumatic scene while modifying the emotional and physical imprint. As she described the scene, I introduced myself in the accompaniment, and saw in detail how to proceed: a visualization through which I guided her toward creating a bodily memory linked to her inner evaluation center.
I share this possibility, while I explain to him that the session is coming to an end, we don’t have time to start imagining today.
I have to think about it. In my culture, some psychological manipulations are considered black magic
I did not expect this response at all. I was surprised and certainly a bit in denial. She would think about it and say yes, that was for sure. Then the next session came.
Have you thought about the visualization I suggested to you?
Yeah, I don’t feel like it, I’m not completely comfortable
I was a little shaken by this new situation, and suddenly I didn’t see very clearly how we could act other than my plans. I had a power outage due to the strictures. Suddenly I took a step back and saw myself in the situation. I took a breath to refocus and put my experience into words.
In fact, I realize I’m glad you could tell me that, because without planning or desire, I find myself in the role of your mother and you stand up to me.
How is that ?
You say no to an authority figure who knows better than you what is good for you, and who imposes it on you without taking into account your own evaluation.
This scene allowed us to realize his newfound ability to listen and take his sometimes subtle physical feelings very seriously. She has transitioned from acting with her head to acting with her feelings, which is a recurring topic among people with an eating disorder.
I want to tell you if it feels fair to eat all the pizza
Excerpts from the session It is a series of articles that provide an overview of the reality of our work as shrinks, by highlighting specific moments. Note: To respect professional confidentiality, some information is modified.
image credit: Madison Mac
(She did this montage after a suggestion from her therapist to illustrate her experience with the sessions.)