The emotional geographies of feminist eating disorder therapy

Heenan, Colleen (2006) The emotional geographies of feminist eating disorder therapy. In: Second International Conference on Emotional Geography, 2006, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. (Submitted)

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Psychoanalytic theorists deem the dynamics of group therapy as having a life beyond the 'sum of its parts'. While Foulkes (1975) took a benign perspective, arguing that the group functioned as a maternal 'matrix' to which members attach, Bion (1961) regarded the group as not just 'container' for powerful emotions but one which could provoke these. However, despite the gendered metaphors, little attention is paid to deconstructing these dynamics (Cohen & Mullender 2003). In a feminist psychodynamic therapy group for women with eating problems, the group functions as an 'emotional space' in which feelings about food, eating, bodies, selves and therapy are experienced as metaphorical 'battles' - both intrapsychically and interpersonally. Taking a feminist and discursive stance, the author draws on clinical material to explore the gendered and culturally specific 'emotional geography' of group psychotherapy. While words provided a means to navigate this terrain and to connect with others, at the same time articulating the self also proved a daunting task for women used to negotiating identities through their bodies. Drawing on psychoanalytic and postmodern ideas offers a means to understand these contested territories.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: gender, emotional geography, feminist group therapy, Bion, Foulkes
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: School of Education and Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Scott Wilson
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2013 12:51
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2014 16:10

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