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Wooldridge, T. (2014). It’s Hard to Hold an Enigma: Response to Discussants. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 13(3):238-239.

(2014). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 13(3):238-239

It’s Hard to Hold an Enigma: Response to Discussants

Tom Wooldridge

I want to thank the discussants for their thoughtful commentaries on my article, The Enigma of Ana: A Psychoanalytic Exploration of Pro-Ana Forums, in this issue. I believe that the points raised in each article are important and deserve thorough consideration. Here I will restrict myself to a few brief comments.

Recently I presented my paper at the yearly scientific meeting of a local chapter of Division 39, the Northern California Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology. Before the paper was presented, both the event organizers and I received numerous e-mails from angry and distressed individuals in the eating disorders treatment community. The concern raised in these e-mails was clear: “Why are you giving a presentation to promote pro-ana forums, which are clearly a disturbing and pathological phenomenon?” At times, I wondered whether I had misrepresented my position. I was reminded, though, that this is a provocative topic that draws out equally intense responses.

Because the literature has consistently focused on the harmful impact of pro-ana forums, my paper highlights the ways that I have been able to generatively leverage patients’ usage of them during treatment. Pro-ana forums provide opportunities for creativity and relatedness in some patients and to some degree. Nonetheless, I have consistently maintained that pro-ana forums are intensely disturbing and problematic. After all, a substantial portion of the paper conceptualizes them as a form of psychic retreat.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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