focus of my practice is concerned with how clients regard their bodies.
It comes up often with women who have eating disorders, but can also come
up with men and those who are not especially troubled by food. Many people
in our culture feel unacceptable to themselves because of body size and
shape. Just as women can be preoccupied with feeling fat, men can be preoccupied
with their height, or baldness, or the size of their nose. The way we
come to think and feel about our bodies can affect our lives in powerful
Sometimes I discuss food and dieting with patients, and the use of a twelve-step program. Sometimes I use a mirror and drawing materials, to help a patient confront and express feelings about their bodies. Often people need help understanding the family, social and environmental influences that have driven them to have distortions about their bodies.
Preoccupations about body image issues can sometimes mask other problems. I have had patients with health concerns, such as metabolic irregularities, who have been unable to care properly for themselves because they had trouble separating cosmetic concerns from medical concerns. Often patients are obsessed about how unacceptable their bodies appear to them, when the underlying problem has to do with failures in relationships. The body is often symbolic for other concerns in people's lives. In therapy, we need to look at both the underlying issues and the behaviors, in order to make progress, and experience change.
in Thinking and Feeling
been working on a cartoon series that illustrates how these kinds of distortions
work. Check back periodically for new comics.