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Eisenberg, D. (1978). The Golden Cage: The Enigma of Anorexia Nervosa, by Hilde Bruch, M.D., Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1978, 150 pages, $8.95.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 38(3):285-285.
(1978). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 38(3):285-285
The Golden Cage: The Enigma of Anorexia Nervosa, by Hilde Bruch, M.D., Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1978, 150 pages, $8.95.
Review by: Dale Eisenberg
Caught in their own concentration camps, golden cages of assumed desires, anorexics are analyzed by Dr. Bruch. Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by an excessive preoccupation with body weight and size and an unrealistic self-image. Its victims are most often adolescent girls from families who have lavished many privileges upon their children. These children do not feel worthy of their parents’ gifts. Therefore, they strive to be the model child, often excelling in school and sports. Eventually the anorexic starves her body to a skeletal size. In many cases hospitalization becomes necessary in order to reverse the physical manifestations of anorexia. By the use of specific examples, Hilde Bruch shows us that it is vitally important to detect a potential anorexic before the condition reaches an acute or chronic stage. The nature of the illness demands the perception of parents, teachers and peers, as an anorexic is unlikely to know that he or she is sick.
Many of Hilde Bruch's patients have come to her after failure to improve while undergoing behavioral therapy. Dr. Bruch advocates analytic psychotherapy, asking her most seriously ill patients to gain a few pounds before productive therapy can begin. Her belief is that the ontology, not the eating habits or apparent phobia, of the adolescent is the crux of the problem.
Written with compassion and insightThe Golden Cage is for parents of anorexic adolescents, for high-school teachers, for doctors, and, most of all, for the anorexic involved in coming to terms with her problems. No one likes to feel alone: we yearn to know that others have been through similar difficulties and emerged as whole, vital people. Dr. Bruch's book is an affirmation of the possibility of dissolving the golden cages of our creations and stepping out into a world filled with the radiance of opportunity and selfhood.
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