chapter  8
19 Pages

Body Image Disturbance in Eating Disorders and Sexual Abuse

WithCarolyn Costin

Eating disorders represent ways in which the body presents its bill. Anorexia and bulimia nervosa can be seen as creative responses to developmental deficits, trauma, or other psychological stressors in a society that is obsessed with the body. To develop and maintain a healthy sense of self, a cohesive, distinct, accurate body self is necessary. Conceptualizations and representations of the body self become the body image. Eating disorders represent a tenuous feeling of control, which has been achieved through the body. Connecting abuse to body image disturbance and dissatisfaction is significant for patients and helps them begin to understand why and how their eating disorder developed as an adaptive function or response. Understanding the concept of an eating disorder self has been enhanced through work with dissociative patients so severely sexually abused that they develop parts of self, or alters, that are distinct from and not readily accessible to the core self or to others.