DOI link for Introduction
This chapter provides some comments about the value of psychoanalytic approaches to the treatment of eating disorders and describes contemporary psychoanalytic approaches within a broader historical framework. Beginning with Sigmund Freud, psychoanalysts have attempted to make sense of the tormented inner lives and the puzzling variety of behaviors of patients with eating disorders. For the sake of clarity, these explanations can be grouped into three categories, according to the theoretical schools from which they originate and the order in which they appear in the professional literature: drive-conflict, object relations, and self-psychology. Self-psychologists have emphasized developmental failures in the processes of mirroring and idealization which, in turn, create difficulties in maintaining self-esteem and self-cohesion. In this context, eating-disorder symptoms serve restorative and regulatory functions for the personality. The chapter also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book.