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Shahly, V. (1987). Eating her Words—Food Metaphor as Transitional Symptom in the Recovery of a Bulimic Patient. Psychoanal. St. Child, 42:403-421.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 42:403-421

Eating her Words—Food Metaphor as Transitional Symptom in the Recovery of a Bulimic Patient

Victoria Shahly

METAPHOR IS PURPORTEDLY CENTRAL TO BOTH THE EVOLUTION OF psychoanalytic theory (Edelson, 1983); (Pederson-Krag, 1956) and the successful application of psychodynamic technique. While there is much philosophical debate regarding the legitimacy of metaphoric constructs in analytic theory formation (Edelson, 1983); (Wurmser, 1977), the therapeutic efficacy of metaphor goes relatively unquestioned. Empirical validation of "metaphor-analysis" (Carveth, 1984) has been confined to unpublished doctoral dissertations, and even theoretical discussion of the subject is scarce (Billow, 1977); (Carveth, 1984); (Lenrow, 1966). Certainly, no study has documented the metaphoric process as it unfolds over the course of treatment. In this paper I attempt a brief overview of the literature on metaphor in the context of psychoanalysis and then more thoroughly examine the role of figurative language in the recovery process of a bulimic patient. I hypothesize that metaphor performs a particular function for patients with eating disorders and so provides an especially potent source of intervention.

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